A federal judge wants more information before ruling on a lawsuit that seeks to end all coyote hunting in a five-county region of Eastern North Carolina.
The lawsuit, filed by three conservation groups last fall, aims to protect the endangered red wolf population living near the Alligator and Scuppernong rivers – about 100 animals reintroduced to the area as part of a federal program.
The groups argued that the state Wildlife Resources Commission causes red wolves to be mistakenly shot by allowing coyote hunting in the recovery area. Wolves and coyotes are almost impossible for hunters to tell apart, their suit said.
Fourteen red wolves died in 2013 that the coalition knows about, including nine dead by suspected or confirmed gunshot wounds. Another wolf was found killed, apparently shot, Jan. 7.
The wolf program is controversial in the five counties, however, as many landowners feel the wolves are damaging native wildlife populations and mixing with coyotes beyond the government’s ability to control them.