Later this month, Arkansas State University will host the national organization that manages efforts to increase the population of red wolves. The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan will hold a conference at the ASU System Office in Little Rock July 23rd through the 25th. This is designed to talk about how to protect and breed red wolves that are in captivity. ASU System Vice President for Strategic Communications and Economic Development Jeff Hankins says the situation is dire.
“There are about 200 red wolves in captivity, fewer than 30 of them in the wild in North Carolina,” says Hankins. “The red wolves are our athletics mascot, but we see an opportunity on the academic side for our biology department and wildlife ecology students to further education and have unique experiences in the research of this critically endangered species.”
Hankins says the meeting will bring together the ASU System, the Little Rock Zoo and the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis to meet with each other and officials with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in how to combine educational, research, and communication resources among local, state, and federal resources for increasing efforts. One of those local efforts would be a red wolves breeding facility in Jonesboro. A plan calls for such a facility at Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro in the future.
“We think this kind of facility in Jonesboro would be positive for our students and faculty, and it would play a national role in the conservation of red wolves, and it could be a tourist destination for Jonesboro and northeast Arkansas,” says Hankins.
The effort to put a breeding facility in Jonesboro would have to include local support for the project as well as private fund-raising, sponsorships, and conservation grants in cooperation with the City of Jonesboro. This and other efforts will be discussed during the survival plan meeting in Little Rock July 23rd through the 25th.