“The current population is extremely small and vulnerable, and it only takes one poacher to kill a red wolf,” says Suzanne Agan ’20 (Antioch New England, PhD in Environmental Studies). Unfortunately, human-caused killings have reduced this majestic species—native to the southeastern U.S.—to just seven individual wolves.
Who is causing this species’ impending extinction? According to the work of Agan and the co-authors (including Lisabeth Willey of Antioch New England) of a recent paper in the journal Biological Conservation, the survival of this species is imperiled mainly by a small fraction of self-identified male hunters (just 11% of that category), whose interest in illegally poaching these wolves is overriding the will of the vast majority of not just Americans but even hunters.
The central finding contradicts the leading theory of conservation, which says that outreach and opinion-changing should focus on the general public. Instead, the authors suggest a small minority of individuals must refrain from killing this and other endangered species before restoration can succeed, so research and interventions need to focus on those few.