U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

February 2005


Published in Wildlife Soiiety Bulletin 2005.


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) developed guidelines for the composition and role of endangered species recovery implementation teams, but few teams have been established and their success has not been evaluated. Using the recovery program of the red wolf (Canis rufus) as a model, we describe the genesis, function, and success of the Red Wolf Recovery Implementation Team (RWRIT) in helping guide the establishment of a viable red wolf population in eastern North Carolina. In operation since 1999, the RWRIT meets bi-annually to review USFWS progress and provide recommendations aimed at maximizing success of species recovery. The team is comprised of 8 research scientists from disciplines including population genetics, canid ecology, population ecology, veterinary medicine, and captive management. Representation from each of these disciplines is deemed necessary for proper evaluation of recovery progress and assessment of future needs. Meeting attendance by the USFWS field management team ensures both proper reporting of past progress and future implementation of management recommendations. Over time, RWRIT members have assumed specific assignments for data analyses, further contributing to the recovery effort. Through the combined efforts of the USFWS field team and the RWRIT, the threat of introgression of coyote (Canis latrans) genes into the red wolf population has been substantially curtailed within the recovery area, and red wolf numbers and range have increased. The RWRIT serves as an example of a recovery implementation team that is successfully incorporating the principles of adaptive management and whose template could be adapted to other endangered species.