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Endangered Mexican gray wolf may get new help

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by Shaun McKinnon

The endangered Mexican gray wolf gained ground Tuesday in its struggle to survive when federal wildlife officials decided the animal may warrant greater protection than other, less-imperiled gray wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will review the status of the Mexican wolf - native to Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico - and determine whether it should be classified as a separate subspecies of the wider-ranging gray wolf native to other parts of North America.

The difference is significant under the Endangered Species Act. The government would be required to create a recovery plan specifically for the Mexican wolf and set measurable goals for the species' recovery that would extend protection beyond what wolves elsewhere receive.

No such plan is in place, even as the wolves' numbers dwindle.

"This is clearly a step forward for the Mexican wolf," said Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife program director for the advocacy group WildEarth Guardians. "The wolves face real, significant threats and they need heightened protection."

The wildlife service announced its review of the wolf's status as part of a settlement with WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Rewilding Institute, three conservation groups that petitioned the agency to reclassify the Mexican wolf.

The government already recognizes the Mexican wolf as endangered and has not moved to change that status even as it delists other wolf populations. But the wolf was reintroduced in Arizona under rules that don't require a recovery plan.

That difference, environmental groups say, has hurt the wolf's survival odds.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service since the mid-1990s has been promising to come out with a new recovery plan for the Mexican wolf," said Michael Robinson, who works on wolf issues for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. "What we have now is a process that will make the plan a mandatory step. Ultimately, it may lead to reforms of the entire reintroduction program."

You can read the full article published in the Arizona Republic on August 4, and post a comment here.

The links below will take you to more articles on the same topic:
Arizona Daily Star
Los Angeles Times
Associated Press

Please submit a letter to the editor supporting stronger protections for the highly endangered Mexican gray wolf to these publications:
Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/sendaletter.html
Arizona Daily Star: letters@azstarnet.com
Los Angeles Times: letters@latimes.com
My San Antonio:  letters@express-news.net

Public comments are being accepted until Oct. 4. There are two ways to make a comment:
• Go to the notice online, then follow the instructions for submitting comments (it takes a little while to load).
• Write mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2010-0045; Divison of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA  22203.
All comments will be posted on the www.regulations.gov website.