Reward offered for information on the death of the endangered red wolf

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the shooting death of an endangered red wolf in North Carolina.

The wolf was found in a muddy field in County Tyrrell on April 15, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The News & Observer reports that he was shot in the spine and collapsed in mud, some of which was found in his lungs.

Killing a red wolf is illegal except in special circumstances.

Red wolves once roamed the Southeast, but after decades of habitat loss and killing by humans, they were nearly extinct by 1980. The Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up the remaining wild wolves and began a program to captive breeding. The first captive wolves were reintroduced to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina in 1987. As of 2006, up to 120 red wolves were believed to be living in the wild.

Since then, wolf populations have declined again.

Last year, the Biden administration dropped a proposal made under President Trump to reduce the areas where red wolves are protected and allow the culling of wolves found outside federal lands.