The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on October 8 that it will delay releasing the Engineer Springs wolf pack from captivity into Arizona until some undetermined time in 2011. This is a hugely disappointing decision, apparently influenced by resistance from the AZ Game and Fish Department, once again acting on behalf of minority anti-wolf interests.
One thing the USFWS can do right away to expedite more releases is to change the Project Rule to allow direct releases into New Mexico. Right now, rules require that Mexican wolves born in captivity only be released into Arizona. Enabling direct releases into New Mexico is critical to getting more wolves into the wild more quickly to boost numbers and gene diversity in the wild population. These things are desperately needed. The Environmental Assessment to allow these New Mexico releases has been drafted but not released. The USFWS must release it immediately for public review and comments.
Please write to US Fish and Wildlife Service Region Three Director Benjamin Tuggle today, and make these points:
New releases of wolves into the wild are needed badly to bolster the population of about 40 wolves that remains after three were illegally killed this past summer. Newly released wolves will not only increase population numbers but will also improve the wild population’s genetics.
There is no acceptable reason to delay releasing the Environmental Assessment to allow direct releases into New Mexico. Delaying the release of the Engineer Springs Pack 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. The US Fish and Wildlife Service should be doing anything it can do to confirm its commitment to restoring the Mexican gray wolf in the wild.
Please add your name and address at the end, because anonymous letters get little attention. Remember, too, that polite requests are more effective.
Send your e-mail to Director Benjamin Tuggle at RDTuggle@fws.gov.
Thank you for all you do for Mexican gray wolves!
Photo of Mexican wolf in captivity courtesy of Trisha Shears