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In the News: Mexican Wolf Conservation Achieves Two Major Milestones

Palo Verde Times, First Mexican wolf pups cross-fostered in the wild confirmed alive - August 13, 2014

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PHOENIX - The endangered Mexican wolf recovery effort has reason to celebrate with the achievement of two major milestones in the work to reestablish the species to its historic range.

Last week, biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team confirmed via a trail camera photo that the two pups cross-fostered in May from an Arizona wolf pack into New Mexico's Dark Canyon pack are still alive and doing well. The photo shows the two cross-fostered pups along with the three pups that were naturally born into the Dark Canyon pack.

Cross-fostering is a technique to move very young pups from one litter into a different, similar-age litter with the hope that the receiving pack will raise them as their own. The cross-fostering effort of these pups was a first for Mexican wolves, although the technique has been used in the east coast red wolf recovery program. Cross-fostering allows genetic diversity to be improved in the wild Mexican wolf population without having to otherwise rely upon the release of naive wolves from captivity to achieve management objectives, including the goal of having the entire free-roaming population fully comprised of wild-born wolves that fare better in the environment.

"The success of this cross-fostering experiment is significant for the future of Mexican wolf conservation," said Jim deVos, assistant director of wildlife management for Game and Fish. "It allows biologists to help direct genetic diversity by moving desirable animals to other packs to improve and disperse specific genetic lineages. With this first cross-fostering attempt a success, we expect the technique to become an important tool for not only increasing the Mexican wolf population, but also the robustness and quality of the animals."

News of the first wild-born litter of Mexican wolf pups in Mexico also signals the accomplishment of another major milestone. Biologists in Mexico have been working to reestablish a population of Mexican wolves south of the international boundary for several years, and recently sighted the first litter born in the country in 30 years.

"Supporting Mexico's program to reestablish the Mexican wolf is imperative to the outcome and success of all recovery efforts for the subspecies given that Mexico makes up 90 percent of this wolf subspecies' core historic range. Recognition of the role Mexico plays is a primary element to successful Mexican wolf recovery," said deVos.

The Mexican wolf reintroduction project in Arizona-New Mexico is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service -- Wildlife Services, and several participating counties in Arizona.

This article was published in the Palo Verde Times.


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Endangered Mexican Wolves Need Your Help!

While the success of this cross-fostering is great news, this practice cannot replace the need for new releases to increase the genetic health of the wild population. With fewer than 90 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to make changes that could push them closer to extinction or finally help them thrive. The decision will be made in the next few months and they need to hear from you!

Submit a letter to the editor responding to this article and influence decision-makers and thousands of your fellow citizens. 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

  • Start by thanking the paper for this article.
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) should move forward with allowing new wolves to be released throughout the larger area proposed.The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered mammal in the U.S. with only about 83 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.
  • USFWS should not allow more killing of critically endangered wolves. The draft proposal will push Mexican gray wolves towards extinction by allowing many more of them to be killed under all kinds of justifications. With fewer than 90 in the wild, every wolf is important. These native lobos need more protections, not less.
  • Wolves once lived throughout Arizona and New Mexico 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. People who care about wolves have an important opportunity to speak out for their recovery through September 23, 2014.  Comments can be submitted electronically here:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056-6056.  More information can be found at mexicanwolves.org.
  • Wolves need freedom from boundaries. Given room to roam, the wolves will establish themselves in suitable areas with adequate game. USFWS must change the rules that do 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 because they roam beyond an artificial boundary 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 16 years of experience with reintroducing wolves. The 83 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 fourth generation wild lobos are not expendable and are essential to recovering this unique subspecies of wolf. 
  • The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan. USFWS admits that their 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, ignoring the best available science.
Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for publishing the article.
  • Do not repeat any negative messages from the article, such as “cows may have been killed by wolves, but…”  Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article.
  • Keep your letter brief, between 150 and 300 words.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.”
  • Provide your name, address, 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 here.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE USFWS PROPOSAL AND UPCOMING HEARINGS, CLICK HERE.

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