A federal judge says federal authorities are violating endangered species protections with their plan to shrink the territory of the only wild population of red wolves, a move that would hasten the animal's demise.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled in an order signed Sunday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also violated the Endangered Species Act by authorizing private landowners to kill the canine predators when they aren't threatening humans, livestock or pets.
The lawsuit by the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Welfare Institute argued that the federal government's neglect allowed the red wolf population to decline.
About 35 red wolves remain in the wild, all in eastern North Carolina. They numbered about 120 a decade ago. Another 200 live in captive breeding programs.