Federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle isn’t given to squishy rulings on controversial issues, and he is hard to pigeonhole as a predictable down-the-line conservative. His decisions are clear and straight-ahead, case by case. So in temporarily restricting the federal government’s wish to take red wolves from private property in North Carolina and restrict them to a federal wildlife refuge and adjacent property in Dare County, Boyle signals that he believes the conservation groups that have battled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are likely to prevail in the long term.
Boyle noted that the population of red wolves in the wild has diminished, to a point where he wrote, “Such rapid population decline has been described as a catastrophic indicator that the wild red wolf population is in extreme danger of extinction.”
Those who fought the wildlife service noted this is the only wild population of red wolves, and if people were authorized to kill them on their land the wolves would be without protection. Opponents of the government’s position also said capturing the wolves and taking them to places with which they were unfamiliar, without their mates or packs also constituted a serious threat.
“This,” said Sierra Weaver, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, “is a great day for red wolves and for anyone who loves nature in eastern North Carolina. The court was clear that it’s the Fish and Wildlife Service’s job to conserve this endangered species, not drive it to extinction.”