Good news for red wolves

The world’s only known wild red wolves, who live in northeastern North Carolina, may soon get a population boost thanks to U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle. He sided with conservation groups and signed an order recently directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft a plan by March 1 for releasing captive-bred wolves into the wolves’ designated habitat.

There are only seven collared and about a dozen or so untagged wild red wolves remaining in the management area, 1.7 million acres of public and private land in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

The preliminary ruling comes in a lawsuit filed late last year by red wolf conservation groups. The lawsuit had argued that the federal wildlife officials had violated the Endangered Species Act through actions that included a decision in 2015 to stop releasing captive-bred wolves to bolster the wild population. Since then, the federal agency has released one wolf from a wildlife refuge into the North Carolina habitat about a year ago.

Fish and Wildlife said in a 2018 federal notice that current regulations limit the release of captive wolves, but Boyle responded that their future depended on it. He said in his ruling that “plaintiffs have demonstrated that extinction is a very real possibility in this case.”

Red wolves once occupied much of the Eastern U.S. but were driven to near extinction by trapping, hunting and habitat loss before they were reintroduced to North Carolina in 1987. Their range is limited to five North Carolina counties. Scientists at zoos and other sites have maintained a captive population of about 200 wolves in recent years.

Indoguration raises $200K for Delaware Humane

Champ and Major, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden’s German shepherds, arrived at the White House last Sunday.

Champ has been part of the Biden family since 2008. Major was adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018 after the Biden family started fostering him.

Major’s story is really one of wags to riches. He is the first rescue dog to ever live at the White House. A virtual “Indoguration” held last week for Major raised $200,000 for the Delaware Humane Association.

The event, powered by Zoom and emceed by NBC News’ “Today” host Jill Martin, celebrated Major’s journey from DHA shelter to the White House to raise awareness around the importance of pet adoption and support more shelter animals like Major in finding their forever homes.

The event drew more than 7,400 attendees. DHA received 100 percent of the proceeds to support its essential relief efforts for pet parents who are struggling financially during this time and homeless pets in need of forever homes.

Good news for world’s rarest turtles

In 2019, the world’s rarest turtle suffered a staggering loss. The last known female of the species, Swinhoe’s softshell turtle, died after an artificial insemination procedure at the Chinese zoo where she and her mate lived. This left the confirmed tally for the species at just two individuals: the male in China, plus one individual of unknown sex in a lake in Vietnam, the New York Times reported.

There may still be hope for the species. Conservationists and veterinarians recently announced that the Vietnamese turtle is a female. At the same time, exhaustive hunts for other surviving Swinhoe’s softshell turtles in Vietnam have verified at least two other promising leads, according to the Times.

“This is very big news in Vietnam,” said Hoang Bich Thuy, the country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Even people who don’t work in conservation, my friends and family, saw it on national TV and were like, ‘Oh! There’s new hope.’”

Swinhoe’s softshell turtles, which can weigh more than 370 pounds, be more than six-feet long and live for over 100 years, hold a special cultural significance in Vietnam, where they are known as Hoan Kiem — “returned sword” — turtles. In the 15th century, a well-known folk tale goes, Vietnam’s king, Le Loi, used a magical sword to defeat the Ming dynasty army. When the battle was over, the king gave the sword to a turtle god in Hoan Kiem lake in central Hanoi.