The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has released a draft proposal to change the rules governing the Mexican wolf reintroduction.
The draft proposal, if implemented, will seriously jeopardize the continued existence of critically endangered Mexican gray wolves, who currently number less than 90 in the wild. The proposal ignores the best available science and recommendations by top wolf scientists.
- USFWS proposes to allow more Mexican wolves to be shot, trapped, and permanently removed from the wild.
- The proposal continues to designate the wild population of lobos as “non-essential,” failing to give them additional protections necessary to their survival.
- And, while it does expand the area wolves can roam, it restricts them to parts of New Mexico and Arizona below I-40, even though leading wolf scientists say that populations of Mexican wolves north of I-40 are essential to the lobo’s recovery.
The only completely good thing it does is to finally allow new wolves from the captive breeding population to be released into a larger area, a change desperately needed for genetic rescue of the wild population.
USFWS has released this draft proposal with a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public comment.
Here are some of the ways you can help:
Submit comments on the draft proposal by 9/23/14. An individual, personalized comment submission that includes these specific talking points will have the most weight. If you’re short on time, you can just copy and paste these directly into the comment form.
1. I support expanding the area in which direct releases of Mexican wolves can occur, the one critical change included in the proposed rule.
- This change has been recommended by experts for over 10 years and needs to be implemented immediately. Currently, new releases are hindered because they can only happen in part of Arizona.
2. The USFWS should eliminate boundaries to the wolves’ movement. The draft proposed rule prevents wolves returning to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado or to the Grand Canyon region, including northern Arizona and southern Utah. (See Map)
- Preventing movement into northern New Mexico and southern Colorado and the Grand Canyon region, including northern Arizona and southern Utah, contradicts the best available science, which confirms that those areas are essential for Mexican wolf recovery.
- Additional populations of Mexican wolves are necessary to their recovery and genetic health, as is the ability for wolves to move between populations.
- Not allowing wolves outside of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area will result in more captures that can result in death or trauma to the wolves. We can’t afford to lose rare Mexican wolves just because they crossed an arbitrary, scientifically unsupported boundary. There should be no restrictions on the movements of Mexican wolves.
3. The USFWS should designate Mexican gray wolves as essential.
- The current labeling all of the wild wolves as “nonessential” ignores science and the reality of 15 years of experience with reintroducing wolves.
- The USFWS claims that even if all of the 83 wolves in the wild are wiped out this is not “likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood” of recovery of Mexican wolves in the wild is unsupported by science or common sense.
- 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.
- After multiple generations of captive breeding with few releases, scientists warn that there may be serious genetic problems making captive wolves less able to thrive in the wild.
- The fourth generation wild lobos are not expendable and are essential to recovering this unique subspecies of wolf.
4. The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan.
- USFWS admits that their present, typewritten, 1982 recovery plan is not scientifically sound and does not meet current legal requirements — yet in its proposed rule USFWS continues to ignore the best available science and the recommendations of its own science recovery planning subgroup.
- Current proposals should contain no provisions that would preclude future recovery options.
5. The proposed expanded provisions for “take” (killing, trapping, and removals) of these critically endangered wolves are unacceptable and will not contribute to the wolves’ recovery.
- Science-based program reviews have shown, and the USFWS has acknowledged, that the killing and permanent removal of wolves by agency managers to resolve “conflicts” has been a major cause of failing to meet the reintroduction objective.
- The proposed rule changes offer additional excuses for removing wolves. USFWS needs to tighten restrictions for “take” of Mexican wolves, not loosen them.
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:
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.
You can also sign a comment petition here.
CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS
Ask your elected officials to weigh in for Mexican wolf recovery. The message to protect wolves will be best received when delivered respectfully and with a focus on evidence and science.
NM residents: Please contact New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and ask them to influence USFWS to make the changes above.
- Tom Udall: ABQ: (505) 346-6791 * Santa Fe: (505) 988-6511
- Martin Heinrich: ABQ: (505) 346-6601 * Santa Fe: (505) 988-6647
Residents of other states: Contact information can be found by entering your address here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
SPREAD THE WORD
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We are going all out to ensure that thousands of comments are submitted calling on USFWS to enact only the changes that will promote lobo recovery. This involves numerous expenses, including costs of paid advertising, printed materials, hearing transportation, lodging and refreshments, and supplies. Any amount you can donate will help.
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