Rewards totaling $5,000 for information about a rare wolf found dead in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern NC several days before Christmas. Federal authorities are offering $2,500 reward and Defenders of Wildlife plan to match it.
An examination of the animal, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release, showed it likely died on Dec. 21 from a gunshot, according to N&O report.
Because red wolves are a protected species, information leading to arrest could bring a large reward.
Red wolves had been declared extinct in the wild. Then in 1987, four pairs of captive wolves were transferred from Texas to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. Since then, the population grew to about 130 red wolves in the 1.7 million acre recovery area spanning Hyde, Dare, Tyrrell, Washington and Beaufort counties, the newspaper said.
That number has declined, partly because of the proliferation of coyotes, a similar looking animal, in the area. Because of the similarities, some red wolves have been shot in cases of mistaken identity. Additionally, there has been cross-breeding of the coyote and wolves.
Now, fish and wildlife officials estimate that there are fewer than 45 red wolves remaining in the wild.