The critically endangered American red wolf might have been saved from extinction Monday.
In a scathing court decision Monday, a federal judge in North Carolina ripped the Interior Department’s management of the last red wolf population in the wild, saying that an agency sworn to uphold a congressional mandate to preserve the animals violated it over and over, and even gave private landowners the right to shoot them.
Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle reminded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which gave the authorization, of its own statement in 1999. “Wildlife are not the property of landowners but belong to the public and are managed by state and federal governments for the public good,” he wrote.
Boyle ruled that a temporary injunction issued against Fish and Wildlife’s shoot-to-kill authorization in 2016 is permanent. The agency must prove that a wolf is a threat to humans or livestock before it can make a decision to take its life.