The US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in January that the US Fish and Wildlife Service must quickly draft and execute a plan to resume releasing captive red wolves into the wild to bolster the plunging population. The ruling results from a lawsuit filed by AWI and allies in November. (See AWI Quarterly, winter 2020.)
In granting our request for a preliminary injunction, the court agreed that the USFWS’s decision to end its captive wolf release program likely violated both the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Judge Terrence Boyle stated in the decision that the agency’s lackluster management efforts “fall woefully short of a program designed to conserve the red wolf in the wild” and its about-face on captive release “had significant adverse impacts and will hasten the extinction of red wolves in the wild.” The court gave the agency just a few weeks to develop and begin implementing a new captive release plan with specific metrics that can be used to measure performance, to ensure the agency commits to a meaningful number of releases and adheres to a timeframe that will halt further decline and restart recovery.