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 Tyrrell County on April 15, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The News & Observer reports that it had been shot in the spine and collapsed in the mud, some of which was found in its lungs.
Killing a red wolf is illegal, except under special circumstances.
Red wolves once ranged across the Southeast, but after decades of habitat loss and killing by humans they were nearly extinct by 1980. The Fish and Wildlife Service gathered up the remaining wild wolves and began a captive breeding program. The first captive wolves were reintroduced to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern North Carolina in 1987. By 2006, as many as 120 red wolves were thought to be living in the wild.
Since then, wolf populations have declined again.
Last year, the Biden administration abandoned a proposal made under President Trump to scale back the areas where red wolves are protected and allow the killing of wolves found outside federal land.