A female red wolf emerges from her den sheltering newborn pups at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C., on Monday, May 13, 2019. The Associated Press found that over the last two decades, more than half of Mexican wolf deaths and about one in four red wolf deaths resulted from gunshots or were otherwise deemed illegal. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Politics, killings stifle wolf recovery amid hefty price tag

May 23, 2019 - 12:06 am

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Illegal killings and political resistance have undercut the return of two species of endangered wolves despite more than $80 million in government spending.

Wildlife officials warn the red wolves of North Carolina could be gone from the wild within a decade. In the Southwest, Mexican gray wolves continue to struggle despite recent gains.

Biologists say poaching has a big effect.

The Associated Press found that over the last two decades, more than half of Mexican wolf deaths and about one in four red wolf deaths resulted from gunshots or were otherwise deemed illegal.

Their recovery has been further hindered by opposition over attacks on livestock or game animals.

A third wolf type — the Western gray wolf — has thrived since reintroduction and could soon lose federal protection.

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