Lawsuit says spotlighting coyotes puts endangered red wolves at risk
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2012: (Actually published on November 1, 2012.)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Red Wolf Coalition, on October 23, 2012 asked Wake County Superior Court to issue a preliminary injunction against spotlight coyote hunting in North Carolina. A hearing was expected to be held after ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press on October 30, with a ruling possibly coming later in the week. .
. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission authorized spotlight coyote hunting to begin on August 1, 2012. Practiced mostly by deer poachers and raccoon hunters, spotlight hunting involves shooting at the reflection of an animal’s eyes in bright light. As wild animals usually “freeze” in sudden bright light, spotlight hunting is widely considered unsportsmanlike, and is illegal except in raccoon hunting throughout the U.S. and Canada.
. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission allowed spotlight coyote hunting while confronting a rapid rise in epizootic hemorrhagic disease in deer. Carried by biting midges, EHD occurs most often when the deer population is dense. Reported in eight western counties, the 2012 outbreak is the twelfth to hit North Carolina since 1939, but the second in two years. Outbreaks are known to kill up to 30% of the deer in afflicted areas, though mortality is usually lower.
. Coyotes and about 100 endangered red wolves are the major wild predators of deer in North Carolina. “Red wolves and coyotes are similar in size, coats, and coloring so red wolves are frequently mistaken for coyotes, even in daylight. Gunshot deaths are a leading cause of red wolf mortality,” explained Southern Environmental Law Center senior communications manager Kathleen Sullivan.
. The motion for an injunction was filed on September 7, 2012, three days after “a red wolf was found dead by gunshot within the eastern North Carolina area designated for red wolf recovery,” said Sullivan. A second red wolf was found shot dead on October 12.
. Also on October 23, 2012 the Southern Environmental Law Center warned the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission that authorizing spotlight coyote hunting violated the federal Endangered Species Act, since it put red wolves in jeopardy, and that a federal lawsuit will follow if action is not taken to protect the wolves.