In the summer of 2014, AWI and allies won an injunction banning all coyote hunting in the federally established recovery area for red wolves in eastern North Carolina. The injunction stems from a lawsuit against the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), alleging that the NCWRC—in permitting the coyote hunting—was causing red wolves to be harmed and killed, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Despite this, later that year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it would review the status and future of the Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina, potentially terminating it and pulling the red wolves out of the state.
With the hope that red wolves will continue to have a permanent home in North Carolina and obtain additional reintroduction sites in their historical range, AWI and our co-plaintiffs in the suit entered into a settlement agreement with the NCWRC. This agreement outlines significant steps to protect endangered red wolves in North Carolina, including banning coyote hunting at night throughout the five-county Red Wolf Recovery Area and during the day on public lands, except in limited circumstances. It also requires permits to kill coyotes on private lands, mandates reporting of all kills, and prohibits coyote contest hunts throughout the recovery area. Overall, the settlement aims to continue to decrease threats posed by indiscriminate coyote hunting, while also addressing the concerns of local private landowners and state and federal agencies that are in charge of red wolf recovery.