"Washington Redwolves." It's one option the National Football League's Washington Redskins are considering as a new mascot.

The actual animal is nearly extinct. As a long-time environmental and science reporter, University of Richmond's Visiting Senior Research Scholar Stephen Nash comments on the decline of the red wolf population and how political interests have dictated the mismanagement of this endangered species.

"The Washington Redskins name-change proposal should have us questioning why red wolves are now nearly extinct in the wild, even though they endured on about half of the U.S. landscape for 100,000 years," said Nash. "The federal red wolf rescue program has plunged from 130 animals to 20 and wildlife biologist critics say the collapse is part of a long-term pattern at the agency that manages the Endangered Species Act"

"Wildlife biologists who have worked with the agency say it is allergic to controversy, easily intimidated, ready to kneecap its own mission under the Endangered Species Act," he said.

"The Union of Concerned Scientists periodically asks scientists at the agency about the integrity of the agency. A quarter of the respondents to the most recent survey reported being asked or told to avoid work on topics deemed politically contentious; more than two-thirds said political interests are a burden to science-based decision-making at the agency," he added.

Nash has written three books that incorporate science-based research on wildlife populations, all published by university presses. He teaches in the environmental studies and journalism programs at the University of Richmond and frequently authors commentary pieces on topics around conservation efforts and climate change.

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Note: Media wishing to connect with Nash as an expert resource can contact Lindsey Campbell, media relations specialist, at lcampbe4@richmond.edu.