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National Forest

Plan to release wolves needs studied

Some West Virginians consider the Monongahela National Forest, 919,000 acres in the eastern mountains, the very heart of our wild, wonderful state. No doubt some of them have heard of a recommendation to try the forest as a site to reintroduce red wolves to the wild.

Red wolves are among the most endangered species of mammals. Just 14 of them are believed to exist in the wild, at a site in eastern North Carolina. A captive breeding program aims to reinvigorate the species.

A study by the Center for Biological Diversity has suggested the Monongahela National Forest may be a good place to reintroduce some red wolves to the wild. That idea will have appeal to some West Virginians.

But — and this comes with a fervent prayer that the red wolves can find new homes in the wild — a realistic evaluation of the idea needs to be made before any action is taken. Frankly, we worry that for various reasons, including the many humans who live within the forest, it would be difficult to sustain a population of red wolves there. Given the fragility of the species, a mistake in where to release them could be disastrous.