Ending Payment of Red Wolves Jeremiah · Tom · Sarah
Our View Conservation plans and efforts for the red wolves (Canisrufus) should end.
Canisrufus • Brown bodied with black highlight on back • Red on ear tips, muzzle, and along legs • Adults weigh ~53-84 pounds • Stand 26 inches tall (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011)
Background • Before 1960 • Red wolves occupied habitat across southeastern part of U.S. • 1960s • Population started to decline • 1973 • Declared Endangered • 1980 • Declared extinct in the wild (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011)
Background • 1987 • Reintroduced captive red wolves in Alligator River Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina • Refuge is approximately 152,195 acres in size(1) • Today • 100-120 individual wolves in wild • 20 packs (2) ₁(U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge 2011) ₂(U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service : Red Wolf Recovery Program 2011)
Range (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011)
The Red Wolf As a Species • ESA definition: Uses Waples Criteria • It must be reproductively isolated from other nonspecific population units(Dyke 1999) • It must represent an important component in the evolutionary legacy of the species.(Dyke 1999) • So does the red wolf qualify?
Two Sides to the Species Argument • Main argument against Red Wolves being considered their own species: • Red wolfs are too closely related to the coyote and grey wolf • Red wolfs at one time were a species, but now they have hybridized. (Smith 1996) Coyote or red wolf? What’s the difference
Evidence Supporting Red Wolf Species • “Analysis of 8 microsatellite loci indicated that it was not coyote genetic material which led to the close genetic affinity between red wolves and eastern Canadian wolves.”(Wilson 2000) • Red wolf evolved in North America sharing a common lineage with the coyote until 150 000 – 300 000 years ago (Wilson 2000)
Red Wolves as a Species • Equally compelling argument for and against classifying red wolf as a unique species • All wild red wolves are classified as experimental nonessential under the ESA.(US Fish and Wildlife Services) • Their niche has been filled by coyotes.
Does Being a Species Guarantee Protection …NO! • Large risk of hybridization • Niche has been filled • So hybridized that it shouldn’t be considered a species.
Colonization • Red Wolfs have had major problems establishing themselves since reintroduction 20 years prior. • Haven’t been able to colonize outside of the NEP site (Waits et al 2011)
Colonization and Mortality • Outside of the actively managed areas the red wolf has not been able to colonized. (Waits et al 2011) • Possible reasons are high mortality rates due to humans. • Colonization will not occur outside of the protected area unless actively managed.(Waits et al 2011) • This will cost even more money with non guarantee.
Colonization and Issues with Hybridization • Only 100 red wolfs in the wild after 20 years ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services) • Since there is no colonization of the red wolf hybridization is only occurring in these. (Waits et al 2011)
Hybridization • Hybridization with Coyotes or Red Wolf x Coyote hybrids is the primary threat to the species persistence in the wild (Kelly et al. 1999) • It has been estimated that the Red Wolf population in North Carolina can sustain only one hybrid litter out of every 59 litters (1.7%) to maintain 90% of its genetic diversity for the next 100 years (Kelly et al. 1999)
Hybridization • The introgression rate noted in the reintroduced population was minimally 15 % (Kelly et al 1999) or approximately 900 % more than the population can sustain to maintain 90% of its genetic diversity for 100 years. • If such levels of hybridization continued beyond 1999, non-hybridized Red Wolves could disappear within 12-24 years.
Habitat • Very little is known about Red Wolf Habitat because the species range was severely reduced by the time scientific investigations began. • The last naturally occurring population utilized the coastal prairie marshes of south-west Louisiana and south-east Texas
Habitat • Red Wolves reintroduced into north-eastern North Carolina and their descendants have made extensive use of habitat types ranging from agricultural lands to pocosins. • Pocosins are forest/wetland mosaics characterized by an overstory of loblolly and pond pine and an understory of evergreen shrubs • These reports suggest that Red Wolves are habitat generalists and can thrive in most settings where prey populations are adequate and persecution by humans is slight.
Management Problems • The Eastern United States is mostly privately owned and this has caused fragmentation problems between the few Federal forest tracts that provide quality habitat to red wolves. • “Population trends since 2000 suggest that the red wolf population has plateaued within the NEP, perhaps due to saturation of quality red wolf habitat (USFWS 2007). • “Despite 20 years of population growth and expansion within the NEP, the red wolf has not successfully colonized areas adjacent to the NEP in the absence of active management. Future reintroduction efforts in areas occupied by coyotes, which includes the historic red wolf range, would likely require intensive management efforts to curb hybridization”( Stoskopf et al. 2005)
Management Problems • Habitat Fragmentation has left small allotments of land for recovery programs for animals that have large home ranges such as the red wolf. • Red wolves that do leave the refuge have a harder time finding a mate and this will lead to interbreeding with coyotes further affecting the genetic diversity of the red wolf. • This will lead to introgression which will further harm the genetic diversity of the red wolf. • Mortality is high among the red wolves due to motor vehicle collisions and human conflicts. • “Gunshot mortality and vehicle collisions contributed up to 36% of the annual mortality reported for red wolves within the NEP” (USFWS 2007).
Hybridization • “Despite increasing knowledge about hybridization and its recognition as a conservation issue, formulating comprehensive management strategies to limit hybridization has proven to be a challenge” (Allendorf et al. 2001). • Hybridization with Coyotes or Red Wolf x Coyote hybrids is the primary threat to the species persistence in the wild (Kelly et al. 1999) • It has been estimated that the Red Wolf population in North Carolina can sustain only one hybrid litter out of every 59 litters (1.7%) to maintain 90% of its genetic diversity for the next 100 years (Kelly et al. 1999)
Hybridization • The introgression rate noted in the reintroduced population was minimally 15 % (Kelly et al 1999) or approximately 900 % more than the population can sustain to maintain 90% of its genetic diversity for 100 years. • If such levels of hybridization continued beyond 1999, non-hybridized Red Wolves could disappear within 12-24 years. • “Hybridization between canids is often cited as a process that is most pronounced in small populations when Allee effects are expected to be most common” (Bohling et Waits 2011).
Hybridization Control • It is very evident that hunting alone can’t control coyote populations. The new plan that is being used right now is vasectomy and tubal litagation. • “The adaptive plan effectively uses techniques similar to Bromley and Gese (2001) to sterilize hormonally intact coyotes and hybrids via vasectomy and tubal ligation, then use them as territorial “place-holders” until replaced by wild red wolves”(USFWS 2007). • This is time intensive and very costly as a management tool. There are also no guarantees if this will work as coyotes can migrate/emigrate in and out of the NEP and surrounding areas. • There is no assurance that the infertile coyotes will be the only ones to be in the area when red wolves are introduced.
Red Wolf Recovery Payments Should Stop • Due to these factors (hybridization, mortality, fragmentation, etc.) the red wolf recovery is a program with high costs and low probability of success. • “The red wolf has a Recovery Priority Number of 5C, indicating a species with a high degree of threat and a low potential for recovery” (USFWS 2007).
Red Wolf Recovery Payments Should Stop • “Recovery of any endangered species is influenced by a range of political, economic, social, as well as biological issues” (Tear et al. 1993) • That is why it is the belief of this group that the red wolf recovery program shouldn’t be funded any longer. There are too many variables with very little chance of success.
Citations • Allendorf FW, Leary RF, Spruell P, Wenburg JK. 2001. The problems with hybrids: setting conservation guidelines. Tree, 16, 613-622. • BohlingJH, Waits LP. 2011. Assessing the prevalence of hybridization between sympatric Canis species surrounding the red wolf (Canisrufus) recovery area in North Carolina. Molecular Ecology, 20, 2142-2156. • Fredrickson, Richard J., and Philip W. Hedrick. "Dynamics Of Hybridization And Introgression In Red Wolves And Coyotes." Conservation Biology 20.4 (2006): 1272-1283. Academic Search Premier. • Miller, Craig R., Jennifer R. Adams, and Lisette P. Waits. "Pedigree-Based Assignment Tests For Reversing Coyote ( CanisLatrans) Introgression Into The Wild Red Wolf ( Canis Rufus) Population." Molecular Ecology 12.12 (2003): 3287-3301. Academic Search Premier. Web. • Smith, Roland. Journey of the Red Wolf. New York: Cobblehill Books/Dutton, 1996. Print • Stoskopf MK, Beck K, Fazio BB et al. (2005) From the field: implementing recovery of red wolf-intergrating research scientists and managers. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 33, 1145-1152.
Citations • Tear T.H., J.M. Scott, P.H. Hayward, and B. Griffith. 1993. Status and prospects for success of the ESA: a look at recovery plans. Science 262: 976-977 • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2007. Red Wolf (Canisrufus) 5 Year Status Review: Summary and Evaluation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Manteo, North Carolina. 10 pp. • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Southeast Region. • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. Red Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Southeast Region. • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. What is a red wolf?. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Web. • Wilson, Paul, et al. "DNA profiles of the eastern Canadian wolf and the red wolf provide evidence for a common evolutionary history independent of the gray wolf." Canadian Journal of Zoology 78 (Dec. 2000): ArticleFirst. Web