Conservation Priorities

Commercialization of Wildlife

NCWF views the commercial exploitation of our fish and wildlife resources – be it the sale of our turtles to Asia or the farming of white-tailed deer and elk – as a serious deterioration of public trust resource management.

Deer and elk are cervids and maintaining the concept of public trust is especially critical as related to captive or farmed cervids. Cervids are the host for a prion that causes chronic wasting disease (CWD), an untreatable, fatal disease to deer and elk. Political pressures from a few cervid farmers to relax current rules governing deer farms and the importation of farmed cervids threaten our native deer and elk populations by heightening the danger of CWD introduction.

Expansion of the captive deer industry will lead to calls for high-fence deer hunting in so-called “shooter” pens to provide an economic outlet for captive deer. Recent history in other states demonstrates that farmed cervids jeopardize the health of wild deer and elk populations and the sport of deer hunting as we know it today.

Megafauna/Apex Species

Megafauna species are those wildlife species in which adults weigh more than 100 pounds and are an important part of the wildlife food chain and faunal diversity. Support for efforts to introduce, protect and expand megafauna species is needed to restore diversity and balance to ecosystems, while lessening adverse impacts of exotic and feral species on the environment. Apex species, top predators such as bears, wolves and sharks, also serve an invaluable function.

NCWF supports science-based management and restoration of native species of megafauna and apex species through collaboration with state and federal agencies, species-specific stewards and other conservation organizations. Upon reintroduction, we will support efforts to protect and expand the success of the newly introduced species.


Recently restored to western North Carolina, elk have spread from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park site of initial federal reintroduction to surrounding public and private lands. Our elk focus includes the expansion of state lands for elk and determining missing gaps in elk protection whether they be land lease programs or programs for reimbursement for damaged pastures, fields or crops.

Red wolf

The northeastern counties of Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Beaufort and Washington are the only places in the world where this apex species roams wild. The red wolves have expanded from their original reintroduction locations on federal lands, leading to co-existence issues with landowners as well as jurisdictional and cooperative management struggles between state and federal agencies. NCWF supports science-based species reintroductions and continues to seek out opportunities and solutions with wildlife agencies to ensure red wolves remain in North Carolina.

Bison and cougars

Once part of the NC landscape, these are appropriate species for NCWF to explore opportunities and strategies for reintroduction with appropriate agencies and conservation partners.

Feral hogs

NCWF will work for solutions to feral hog population spread and growth.

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