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Blog: The future of Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program

The Wildlife News, Greta Anderson, 8/6/14

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) with revisions to the reintroduction program for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in Arizona and New Mexico. Notwithstanding the fact that this should have been a full recovery plan, and that FWS has to divorce the highly imperiled lobos from its ill-conceived plan to delist gray wolves nationally, there are also some critical problems with the new proposal itself that conservationists will want to note. See below.

The FWS is holding public hearings next week in Arizona and New Mexico to take public comment on the rule revision. More information about the hearings can be found online at this link.  If you live in the area and can make it to one of the hearings to express your support for full wolf recovery, please do!

Problems with the proposal are the usual industry-appeasement provisions that doom wolf recovery everywhere: More circumstances that would justify lethal or permanent removal in more places. This species’ recovery has been set back by such heavy-handed management and making it easier for livestock operators to kill wolves IS NOT the way to recover them. Additionally, it allows for wolf “removal” where they have unacceptable impacts to wild ungulates– their prey! Read this editorial from the Arizona Republic, “What are wolves supposed to do? Order a pizza?” if you can’t see what’s wrong with that picture.

The proposed rule also maintains the “non-essential” designation (the “10(j)” rule) that fails to give lobos the full protection of the ESA. Lobos are essential.

And while the new rule would expand the areas that lobos are allowed to occupy in Arizona and New Mexico– from Texas to California and south to the U.S.-Mexico border– it does not expand their permissible range north of Interstate 40 into the Grand Canyon region or northern New Mexico. This has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with the science that shows many acres in these areas would be suitable habitat for the species.

Written comments on the proposed rule change will be accepted until September 23, 2014.

Submit your comments electronically here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056-6056

Or by U.S. mail or hand delivery to:
Public Comments
Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2013–
0056; Division of Policy and Directives
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.


This article was published in the Wildlife News.

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Photo credit: Scott Denny