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In the News: NM Group: Mexican Gray Wolf Protections Not Enough

Cibola Beacon, November 26, 2013  (posted 11/29/13)

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Cibola Beacon, Troy Wilde

The federal government is not doing enough to ensure that the Mexican Gray Wolf does not go extinct, according to attorney Judy Calman with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the Mexican Gray Wolf as a separate endangered subspecies, while simultaneously proposing to remove the Gray Wolf nationally from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Calman said the proposed recovery plan does not adequately expand the animal's range in New Mexico and Arizona.

"Wolves don't carry maps. They don't know when they're crossing boundaries. And what they're going to do is naturally disperse into territory that they can occupy based on prey and terrain and climate," Calman explained.

Wolves that stray from the recovery area will be captured and returned, she said, adding that the animals need a much greater habitat area to reestablish distinct population groups and avoid genetic inbreeding.

About 75 captive-bred Mexican Gray Wolves live in a recovery area located in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitegraves National Forests in Arizona. Sherry Barrett, FWS Mexican Wolf recovery coordinator, said increasing the range area should help the animals grow in number.

"What our proposals are intended to do is to increase that area within which they can establish more territories, expand their population, which will significantly help us with genetics," Barrett said. The recovery area would increase in size by five times - to 31,000 square miles - if the plan is approved.

Parts of Cibola County are included in the proposed expansion.

The FWS Mexican Gray Wolf recovery plan is available at www.fws.gov.

This article was published in the Cibola Beacon.

Submit your letter to the Editor here.

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PLEASE TAKE ACTION FOR MEXICAN WOLVES!

You can help ensure the future of the lobo by attending the public hearing in Hon-Dah/Pinetop, by submitting comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service, and by writing a letter to the editor of the Cibola Beacon.

One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers.  Tips and talking points are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Don’t try to include all the talking points in your letter.

Talking points

  • While giving Mexican wolves their own Endangered Species Act listing is long overdue, delisting gray wolves throughout the U.S. is counter to protecting Mexican wolves. The  proposed rule will leave gray wolves unprotected in places that scientists have said are needed for Mexican wolf recovery, making it more difficult to protect Mexican gray wolves even if they are allowed to expand into new areas.
  • The USFWS should move forward with allowing new wolves to be released throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered mammal in the U.S. with only about 75 in the wild.  Additional wolves must be released into the wild now to increase the genetic health of the species. Numerous wolves are in captive breeding facilities around the country, prepared for, and awaiting, release.
  • Wolves once lived throughout the west and played a critical role in keeping the balance of nature in place. We need to restore this important animal that has been missing for too long.
  • Wolves need freedom from boundaries. Given room to roam, the wolves will establish themselves in suitable areas with adequate game. The USFWS proposal does not allow wolves to establish new packs and populations in additional areas that are essential to their recovery.
  • 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.
  • The USFWS should designate Mexican gray wolves as 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 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.
  • The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan at the same time as or before changing the current rule.
  • The likelihood of a person being hurt by a wolf is almost non-existent. In rural areas, people are far more likely to be harmed by things accepted as part of daily life, such as domestic dogs, livestock, or off-road vehicles. Mexican wolves are small, weighing 50-85 pounds, and tend to avoid people.
Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for publishing this article.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.)
  • Provide your name, phone number and address. The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.
  • Submit your letter to the Editor of the Cibola Beacon here.

Thank you for speaking out to save Mexican wolves!
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Photo credit: Rebecca Bose, Wolf Conservation Center