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Press Release: Interior Secretary Salazar Urged to Restart Mexican Wolf Releases Into Wild

Scientists, Conservationists, Sportsmen and Animal Advocates join together to send message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, March 29, 2012

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Obama Administration Has Yet to Release Any New Wolves;
Wild Population Suffering From Inbreeding

SILVER CITY, N.M.— On the 14th anniversary of the reintroduction of endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wild in the Southwest, 30 conservation organizations, scientists, and animal-protection and sportsmen groups today urged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to release Mexican wolves from the captive-breeding program into the wild this year since no release has occurred since 2008. The letter also asks Salazar to allow the release of captive-bred wolves to New Mexico, which is currently prohibited.

Both measures would help stop the loss of genetic diversity among Mexican wolves in the wild, increasing the chance that this unique but highly vulnerable gray wolf subspecies may recover. Only 58 wolves, including just six breeding pairs, were counted in the wild in January 2012. The letter to Salazar documents that inbreeding may be lowering the number of pups that are born and survive.

“President Obama’s government has failed to release even a single Mexican wolf from the captive-breeding program,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scientists have practically begged the bureaucrats to release more wolves, to no avail. So we’re now asking Secretary Ken Salazar for his personal attention and quick action to rescue the inbred Mexican wolf population by releasing more wolves.”

Releases of wolves from the captive-breeding pool, whose animals have never before lived in the wild, can only occur in Arizona. Releases of wolves captured in the wild may take place in Arizona and New Mexico. But in light of illegal killings of wolves and inbreeding, biologists and the Fish and Wildlife Service itself have recommended a rule change to allow the more numerous captive-bred wolves to be released into the remote portion of the bi-state recovery area, in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico. The Obama administration has continued to stall for time on that rule change.

“Time is running out for endangered Mexican wolves," said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center. “After more than a decade of bureaucratic inaction, wolves cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to use its existing authority to take immediate action to get more wolves on the ground before this magnificent creature goes extinct in the wild — for the second time in living memory, only this time it will be government bureaucrats not trappers that are the cause of its demise.”

“Wolves help protect streamside vegetation from overgrazing by elk, as the experience in Yellowstone National Park shows,” said Donna Stevens, a botanist who is executive director of the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance. “We need more Mexican wolves not just for their own sake and to ensure this unique animal’s survival, but also for the health of the entire ecosystem.”

The 1998 reintroduction of Mexican wolves to Arizona and New Mexico was projected to result in 102 wolves, including 18 breeding pairs, in the wild by the end of 2006, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s environmental impact statement on the reintroduction. No recovery goal has yet been established for the Mexican wolf.

Read more here about the Center for Biological Diversity’s work to save Mexican gray wolves.


Contact:
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 534-0360
Kevin Bixby, Southwest Environmental Center, (575) 522-5552 or (575) 649-7260 (cell)
Donna Stevens, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance, (575) 590-5698

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Please join us in reaching out to the Secretary of the Interior.


Please contact Ken Salazar and tell him it’s time to put more wolves into the wild where they belong.

In your message, you can include the points below, but please use your own words so that your message will be more effective:

Mexican gray wolves need to live wild, and wild places need them.

New releases of wolves into the wild are needed badly to bolster the population of only 58 wolves that remain in the wild. Newly released wolves will not only increase population numbers but will also improve the wild population’s genetics.

The AZ Game and Fish Commission’s decision to oppose new releases makes changing the rule to allow direct releases into New Mexico even more critical than ever.

There have been no releases of new Mexican wolves into the wild since November 2008. As the agency with ultimate authority and responsibility for restoring the Mexican wolf, the US Fish and Wildlife Service should be doing anything it can do to confirm its commitment to the wolf’s success in the wild.

Talk about who you are and why Mexican wolf recovery is important to you, personally.

Please add your name and address at the end, because anonymous letters get little attention. Remember, too, that polite requests are more effective.

You can find background information on what is delaying the release of more Mexican wolves into the wild in this article.

Send your e-mail to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar: exsec@ios.doi.gov

Please send us a copy as well, so that we can track the actions taken to save these wonderful animals.

If you are more comfortable speaking, you can call Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at 202-208-7351.

Thank you for all you do.