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Plan Calls For Expanding Mexican Gray Wolf Range

Arizona Public Media, June 7, 2013  (posted 06/24/13)

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a new management proposal for Mexican gray wolves Friday, as part of a larger plan for gray wolves.

Under the proposal, most of the remaining federal protections for gray wolves would be lifted and their management would be handled by state wildlife officials.

The only protected populations of gray wolf would be the subspecies of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

The new plan allows more Mexican wolves to be released in New Mexico and lets them roam beyond the current Blue Range Recovery Area, which is in the Apache and Gila national forests in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle says the revised wolf recovery plan could eventually lead to more wolves and more packs.

The Mexican gray wolf once roamed large portions of the Southwest but was almost extinct by the mid-1900s. It was listed as endangered in 1976.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing captive-reared Mexican wolves in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico in 1998.

A 2012 survey of the area turned up 75 wolves living in the wild, up from 58 in 2011.

This article was published online at Arizona Public Media, which includes an audio clip.



Please give the wolves a voice-write a letter today!

Two proposed rules affecting Mexican gray wolves and all gray wolves were published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013.

Gray wolf: Docket No. [FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073]
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Mexican Wolf: Docket No. [FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056]
Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico


Public comments will be through 11:59 p.m. on September 11, 2013. USFWS guidance on how to submit comments is provided here.

Points to include:

While giving Mexican wolves their own ESA listing is overdue, delisting gray wolves thoughout the lower 48 is premature and unsupported by science. The very scientists whose research is referenced in the draft rule to remove the gray wolves' protections have stated that the science does not support the delisting.

A change that allows new Mexican wolves to be released directly into New Mexico instead of limiting new releases to Arizona is also long overdue. This will remove obstacles to getting new wolves and healthier genetics in the wild, where they are desperately needed.

Wolves don’t read maps. Mexican gray wolves should have the freedom to roam and boundaries on their movements should be eliminated.

The Fish and Wildlife Service should complete the Mexican gray wolf Recovery Plan; without a valid recovery plan, the agency is making important decisions without a road map

The Fish and Wildlife Service should give critically endangered Mexican wolves greater protections, including full endangered species protections, rather than extending the zone in which they can be killed or removed over livestock.

Delisting gray wolves throughout the U.S. is counter to protecting Mexican wolves. Fewer than 80 Mexican gray wolves exist in the wild. New populations of these wolves are desperately needed for them to thrive. But the draft plan would leave gray wolves unprotected in places where this endangered subspecies could and should live. This will make protection of Mexican gray wolves much more difficult should they expand into Utah or Colorado and make it unlikely that any wolves will be able to naturally reestablish a presence in the Southern Rockies, a region with excellent suitable habitat where wolves were once found.

Wolves are a benefit to the West and are essential to restoring the balance of nature.

Polling showed 77% of Arizona voters and 69% of New Mexico voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction.

Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters.

Wolves generate economic benefits - a University of Montana study found that visitors who come to see wolves in Yellowstone contribute roughly $35.5 million annually to the regional economy.

To submit comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, go to http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
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Photo credit: Scott Denny