RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Conservationists told a judge that an imminent federal plan to shrink the territory of the only wild red wolves would hasten the animal's extinction.
Lawyers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, countered that new rules for the red wolf program, set to be finalized next month, mean that the conservationists' current arguments are moot.
The federal lawyers say a new lawsuit would need to be filed to halt new plans set to be finalized by the end of November.
The lawsuit by conservationists argues that the federal government has for years neglected the wolves and allowed their wild population to decline to its most precarious position since the species was reintroduced the wild in the 1980s. An estimated 35 wild red wolves remain - all in eastern North Carolina.