I write a lot about how the Trump administration harasses and demeans people of color, immigrants, and non-Christians. Today, I want to turn to a different target of violence: red wolves.
The Trump Administration is set to allow hunting of the red wolf, which has been protected for the last 30 years. More broadly, the Trump administration wants the economic impact of protecting endangered species to weigh more heavily in the decision to include them among protected species. (We might see this as the larger prioritization of profit over survival.)
Red wolves are in the crosshairs (literally, since the Trump administration would allow hunting of them) as the government debates whether they are a distinct species or a hybrid of the gray wolves and coyotes. A panel of experts is supposed to report to the government in March about whether the red wolf meets the definition of a separate species, but scientists won’t be making the final call. That rests with Congress, and Congress has lots of incentive to allow the red wolves, which are the most endangered wolves in the world, according to Dr. Thomas Risch, an ecology professor at Arkansas State University (where I teach), which is trying to build a breeding program.
Above, noble indigenous species who represents the spirit of hardy, adaptive Southerners? Or nuisance animal whose interbreeding habits have protected it for too long?
Red wolves used to roam from central Pennsylvania to central Texas, and they especialy important among the Cherokee. However, they began to disappear in the 1960s. In the 1980s, a breeding program released captivity-bred red wolves back into North Carolina. There, they roamed a combination of private and federal land, and their numbers briefly increased. Then, private property owners began to shoot them, and their numbers have dwindled to about 35 animals.
I’m not sure how Arkansans will respond to any directive that removes protections from the red wolf. A-State’s mascot is the red wolf, and the university has real money on the line in developing a breeding program. But it’s also a heavily-agriculture place where support from Trump administration’s policies and an anti-federal government attitude are strong (unless that federal government is bailing out soybean farmers).
PS. Happy Homecoming, A-State! Wolves up!