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FWS Grants Wolf Delisting A (Very) Temporary Reprieve

Endangered Species Coalition, Mitch Merry, September 4, 2013  (posted 09/09/13 - updated 09/14/13)

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Early today, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that the time period allowed for the public to comment on their proposal to strip wolves of Endangered Species Act protections is being extended 45 days.

Additionally, they will be holding public, in-person hearings in 3 locations:

September 30, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in Washington, DC.
October 2, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m in Sacramento, California.
October 4, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., in Albuquerque, New Mexico. *

This is welcome news, as the public comment process was twice plagued with technical issues that made submitting comments impossible for days on end. Further, the FWS came under recent scrutiny after the organization P.E.E.R. found that they had excluded 3 of the nation’s top wolf experts from the mandated peer review process. These scientists were banned because they had signed a letter along with 13 other scientists expressing their disagreement with the science of Secretary Jewell’s plan.

We hope that Interior Secretary Jewell and the FWS will take these additional 45 days to listen to the hundreds of thousands of people that have already spoken out against this plan in addition to the scientists referenced above.

We will be using these additional days and weeks to continue to organize against this unscientific plan, both online and in-person at the public hearings.  The ESC has connected a one-of-a-kind network of scientists, legal experts, advocates, and others to build support for maintaining protections for wolves.

Please click here to send an email to Secretary Jewell asking that the FWS maintain existing protections for still-recovering wolves and consider supporting the ESC’s work to protect wolves.

Thanks to Endangered Species Coalition for this article.

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Plan to come to Albuquerque on October 4 for the hearing.

* The Albuquerque hearing will be a combined hearing on the gray wolf delisting proposal and the proposal to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf.  This will be the only hearing in which the proposed changes to the rules governing Mexican wolf reintroduction will be addressed.

Your participation is critical to the lobos' future.

Thousands of wolf supporters will show NM's Senators and the US Fish and Wildlife Service the overwhelming support for Mexican wolf recovery.

And please submit comments on the USFWS proposal today and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Personalized comments are most effective, but you can also copy and paste the  following key points:

1. The good change is to allow direct releases of Mexican wolves throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.  The USFWS should put the rest of their proposed rule on hold and speed up approval for more direct releases in expanded areas.

This change has been recommended by experts for over 10 years and can be made faster and with less bureaucratic delay than any other part of the proposed rule.

2. The proposed rule effectively prevents wolves returning to the Grand Canyon region, including northern Arizona and southern Utah, or to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The USFWS should eliminate boundaries to the wolves’ movement.

Scientists say some of the last best places for wolves are in these areas, but currently wolves who set up territories outside the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area are recaptured and moved back. Under the proposed change, the USFWS will recapture Mexican wolves just for going outside of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area whether they establish territories or not. Additional populations of Mexican wolves are necessary to their recovery and genetic health, as is the ability for wolves to move between populations.

Capturing and moving wolves is always a risky business that can result in death or trauma to the wolf. And a bigger box is still a box. 

3. The USFWS should not re-designate Mexican gray wolves as experimental, non-essential. By labeling all of the wild wolves as “nonessential” the USFWS ignores science and the reality of 15 years of experience with reintroducing wolves. 

The USFWS claims that even if all of the 75 wolves in the wild are wiped out this is not “likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood” of recovery of Mexican wolves in the wild. When the current rule declared wolves in the wild “nonessential” there were only 11 wolves, recently released from a captive breeding program, and they made up only 7% of all Mexican wolves in the world.

Now the 75 wolves in the wild have up to four generations of experience in establishing packs and raising pups and are over 22% of all of the Mexican wolves in the world. And after four generations of captive breeding with few releases, scientists warn that there may be serious genetic problems making captive wolves less able to thrive in the wild.

The fourth generation wild lobos are not expendable and are essential to recovering this unique subspecies of wolf. 

4. The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan – and let the public see it – at the same time as or before changing the current rule (except for allowing wolves to be reintroduced into additional suitable places). 

USFWS admits that their present, typewritten, 1982 recovery plan is not scientifically sound and does not meet current legal requirements – yet in its proposed rule USFWS continues to emphasize a woefully inadequate population of only 100 wolves in the wild.

When USFWS published the current rule in 1998 they said they expected to put out a new recovery plan for the public to comment on later that year; 15 years later, there still is no scientific or legally adequate recovery plan!

The proposed rule puts the cart before the horse and should come with or after – not before – an updated recovery plan

USFWS’s decisions on the proposed rule can help Mexican wolves finally thrive or can push them closer to extinction.   Please comment today, and ask others to do the same. 

You can submit your comments online here:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056

Or by mail addressed to: 
Public Comments Processing - Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056 
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203


Thank you for giving these special wolves a voice in their future.

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