North Carolina's governor is urging federal authorities not to reduce protections for endangered red wolves that can only be found in the state.
In a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper asked the agency to maintain the current five-county conservation area for the wolves. Only about 35 red wolves remain in the wild, all in eastern North Carolina.
The federal government in June proposed shrinking the current conservation area and lifting restrictions on shooting wolves that leave it. North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton says those changes could lead to the species' extinction.
Cooper's request clashes with the stance taken by North Carolina's own Republican appointee-controlled Wildlife Resources Commission, which opposes federal red wolf recovery efforts.