© October 15, 2010
For the second time in six months, federal authorities are investigating the suspected shooting death of a red wolf, a species that once teetered on the brink of extinction and now wages its fight for survival exclusively in eastern North Carolina's wilderness.
The most recent killing of a red wolf - a creature rarer than the panda - occurred last week in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Dare County. Two red wolves were found dead in nearby Hyde County six months ago...
Today, biologists estimate that between 115 and 130 red wolves exist in the wild - all of them in a five-county area on the Albemarle Peninsula of North Carolina.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees a red-wolf recovery program, is investigating the latest deaths. Anyone convicted of killing a red wolf - protected under the federal Endangered Species Act - faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines...
Ignorance of the red wolves' protected status also is a problem, said Kim Wheeler, director of the nonprofit Red Wolf Coalition.
"We have people that come into the area that don't even know we have wolves," Wheeler said...
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Photo from the article.