Wednesday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) attended and spoke at a House Committee on Natural Resources oversight hearing on the status of the federal government’s management of wolves. Tillis called for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to formally end its Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina.
Since it was created 30 years ago, the Red Wolf Recovery Program has failed to meet population recovery goals for the red wolf while negatively affecting North Carolina landowners and the populations of several other native species. 514 private landowners and farmers have sent individual requests to USFWS to not allow red wolves on their land.
The Office of the Inspector General released a report on the Red Wolf Recovery Program in February, finding that the USFWS violated its rule by releasing 132 wolves into the wild between 1987 and 2013, when it had only provided for the release of 12 wolves. Additionally, they found that USFWS released wolves on private property without the written permission of landowners.
Senator Tillis recently visited Aurora, North Carolina, to meet with property owners who are being harmed by the program. In June, he secured a provision in the Senate FY2017 Interior Appropriations bill that would require the USFWS to coordinate with North Carolina Wildlife Commission on decisions related to the future of the Red Wolf Recovery program.
The North Carolina Wildlife Commission has also requested that the USFWS end the program.
“Before we do anything more in North Carolina, I think it makes the most sense to shut the program down to figure out how to do it right and build some credibility with the landowners,” said Senator Tillis during today’s committee hearing. “There is a less than respectful history of dialogue between folks in North Carolina and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is going to be an issue my office will be focused on for as long as I’m a U.S. Senator.”
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