I didn't even know there was a season for these critters. Have to wonder if the zoo is spreading the false perspective or just a biased journalist...
They are real. I've seen red wolves in the Smoky Mt. Nat. Park twice. That's not much considering I grew up fly-fishing those mountains (about 32yrs of experience now). The first time I saw them I was up on the right hand fork of Treemont, several miles back in catching appalachian brookies. There was three together. The second time they crossed the road on me coming out by Elkmont's entrance.
By the late 90's the park biologists realized what a disaster it was to re-introduce them. The environment has changed too much. The wolves couldn't survive the wild that they once had prior to the area being settled around. Private land holdings around the park are too much competition for critters, and the wolves eventually got out of bounds so to speak. Once calves started dying, it was bye bye. The wolf was dying off though, that was the real reason for their failure here. They couldn't live off the land/wildlife around them anymore, so they turned to private pastures and calves. Sad really. I'm totally opposed to bringing in these 150lb mammoth wolves you all have dealt with, but the red wolf could have been sustainable with wildlife around it (they got no more physicality than coyotes), it just wasn't a sustainable ecology all the way around anymore. They were really pretty dudes/dudettes too.
There are several counties in eastern NC that don't allow any trapping or hunting of coyotes because it is too difficult for hunters to tell the red wolves from the coyotes. It is so difficult that a biologist told me that he couldn't tell a red wolf apart from a coyote if both were lying dead on the ground in front of him. The biologist said that the only way to tell a red wolf from a coyote is with a DNA test.
There is a population of them in Alligator NWR, which is at the southern edge of the Albemarle Sound, just inland of Kitty Hawk, NC (where the Wright Brothers first took flight).
The irony to me is it's usually the same type of people, that want to let "nature take it's course and keep hunters out of it" while at the same time "playing God and reintroducing struggling species."
(would have been great if that info was in the article too)
A skeptical type might say that sometimes it seems as if species are "invented" so that they can be declared threatened, endangered or extinct. That'd be one good way to exercise control over people and land use wouldn't it?
I think the latter is the case with Reds - that is, assuming that they are genetically distinct as Wolf, and not actually “just” a wolf-yote mix (hybrid would be inaccurate, since Wolf-Yote crosses are clearly NOT infertile....
Ironic, though, that coyote hunting is perceived to be a threat to the “red wolf” when interbreeding is probably at least as great a hazard to their preservation as a distinct species. I’m not sure what % coyote DNA within the Wolf population would spell the end of the species, but given the adaptability of the coyote, I’m going to guess that it’s under 50%...
Ace - you made good points.
Also, I was wrong when I said that coyotes couldn't be hunted. Within the last couple of years coyote hunting has become tightly controlled. At the link are the coyote hunting requirements for the 5 counties. Coincidentally, those are also the counties with NC's enormously fat black bears.
Endangered species designation allows the Government to restrict to anything that may impact the designated species - logging, mining, oil and gas, livestock grazing, hunting of designated species (or anything similar to the designated species) and, of course, limits to any potential prey species that said designated species eats.
Sorry to hear that Forrest!
What part of Scavenger” don’t you understand???