Press Release: Conservationists condemn New Mexico officials for trying to stop releases of endangered Mexican wolves
May 13, 2016
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a legal and moral obligation to follow the best available science and do what is needed to recover endangered Mexican gray wolves in spite of politically motivated state opposition.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service should stop letting anti-wolf state officials obstruct wolf recovery. The last effort to create a Mexican wolf recovery plan stalled precisely because the states were given opportunities to weigh in before the work of the scientific experts was released for public comment. The most recent recovery planning process, which began in 2011, ended amidst allegations of political interference by these same states with the science.
- In a 2013 poll of registered voters, 87% of New Mexicans agreed that “wolves are a vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage.” 80% of New Mexicans agreed that “the US Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help wolves recover and prevent extinction.” In thinking about wolf reintroduction, 73% of New Mexicans supported restoring wolves to the Grand Canyon region and northern New Mexico.
- At last official count, only 97 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world. The wild population declined 12% since last year’s count. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to release only one family in 2016 is anemic, not aggressive.
- The wild population of Mexican wolves is at tremendous risk due to its small size and genetics. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to release only one new family from the hundreds of wolves in captive breeding programs is entirely inadequate to the need for genetic rescue. At least five new families should be released this year. The Service’s plan is actually passive-aggressive, pretending to help the wolves but again giving in to the states.
Dear Director Ashe,
Mexican gray wolves are important to me and the majority of voters, and their recovery can help restore ecological health to our wildlands. Only four wolves have been released into the wild since 2009 and this year, the wild population declined for the first time in six years, from 110 wolves last year to only 97. The longer the wild population goes without new releases, the worse the problems will become, requiring even more wolf releases in the future.
Instead of allowing political interference by the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, the US Fish and Wildlife Service must expedite the release of adults and families of wolves from captivity and must move forward with the draft recovery plan based on the work of the science planning subgroup.
Obstruction by anti-wolf special interests and politics has kept this small population of unique and critically endangered wolves at the brink of extinction for too long and can no longer be allowed to do so. Development of a new recovery plan and expedited releases that will together address decreased genetic health and ensure long-term resiliency in Mexican wolf populations must move forward without delay or political interference.
[Your name and address]
You can make your letter more compelling by talking about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a camper or hiker wanting to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.