CRESWELL, N.C. (WNCN) – Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are looking for the person responsible for killing a red wolf in Tyrell County.

The red wolf was found dead in a muddy farm field south of Newlands Road on April 15.

It was shot in the spine, causing the wolf to collapse in the field. The Service said a necropsy found the wolf’s lungs were found full of mud.

A reward of $5,000 is being offered for information that leads to a successful prosecution in this case.

Red wolves are a protected endangered species, however, landowners may be allowed to remove a nuisance red wolf if it attacks their livestock or pets. The Service said “a red wolf that is taken incidentally to any type of otherwise legal activity on private lands in the red wolf recovery area does not constitute a violation of federal regulation provided that the taking is not intentional or willful and is reported to the Service within 24 hours.”

If someone accidentally kills a red wolf, they must report it by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service toll-free at 1-855-4-WOLVES (1-855-496-5837).

Anyone with information is urged to contact North Carolina Division of Refuge Law Enforcement Patrol Captain Frank Simms at 252-216-7504 or Special Agent Jason Keith at 919-856-4786 ext. 34.

Furthermore, estimates from Oct. noted there were eight known and collared red wolves in the wild. Between 15 and 17 are estimated to live in the wild and more than 200 are currently in captivity.