A federal judge ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must release red wolves, bred and raised in captivity, into the wild within a North Carolina management area.
The red wolf was listed as endangered in 1967 and declared extinct in the wild in 1980. In 1995, a special rule was put in place to manage a nonessential, experimental population of captive-bred red wolves in five eastern North Carolina counties. The population peaked at about 120-130 wolves in 2006 but steadily declined to about seven since.
USFWS previously stated that current regulations restrict the release of captive red wolves.
(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)