By Justin King
Six endangered red wolves have been shot in the last month in North Carolina, prompting the federal government to advertise a reward made up of contributions from conservationist organizations.
Scientists estimate there are less than 100 red wolves in the wild, and the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. After a reintroduction that has left the species on the endangered list, the wolf roams free only in a small section of North Carolina. It remains under federal protection.
The most recent body was recovered in Hyde County, North Carolina. The previous killings occurred in Washington, Hyde, and Terrell counties. Since January, 14 red wolves have died, nine from suspected or confirmed gunshot wounds.
The combined reward is now up to $26,000 for information leading directly to an arrest and conviction in the cases. The money is made up of contributions from North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Red Wolf Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service websites states "The red wolf is protected under The Endangered Species Act. The maximum criminal penalties for the unlawful taking of a red wolf are one year imprisonment and $100,000 fine per individual. Anyone with information on the death of this red wolf or any others, past or future, is urged to contact Resident Agent in Charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959, Refuge Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504, or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at (252) 216-8225."