Thirty-nine years after they were listed as an endangered species, Mexican wolves still do not have a valid plan to ensure their recovery.
A science-based recovery plan that establishes criteria for delisting is required by the Endangered Species Act. But the Mexican wolf, an animal reduced to just seven surviving animals before captive breeding enabled reintroduction to begin, has only a 1982 plan that is severely out of date, incomplete, and inadequate to guide recovery.
There still is no recovery plan to address the vexing genetic problems now besetting the wild population and no science-based criteria to serve as a scientific and managerial benchmark for how many wolves, in what distributions and with what safeguards in place, constitutes recovery.
Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) instituted new rules for the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in February, 2015, without a recovery plan. The new rules contradict the recommendations of scientific experts on what is needed to recover Mexican gray wolves. The science says there must be new Mexican wolf populations in the Grand Canyon region (northern AZ/southern UT) and the Southern Rockies (northern New Mexico/southern CO); the new rules requires Mexican wolves north of I-40 to be trapped and removed. The science says human caused mortality must be reduced; the new rules allow more killing of these endangered animals. The science says there should be no fewer than 750 wolves; the new rules cap the wild population at 325.
Since 1982, the government has initiated recovery planning for the Mexican wolf three times, only to stop the process before a draft plan could be released. USFWS has publicly promised multiple times to move forward with recovery planning but has yet to proceed.
Please tell decision-makers to stop stalling and move forward with a valid Mexican gray wolf recovery plan now. A sample email is below-remember that it will be most effective written in your own words, from your own experience.
Dear [decision maker],
Mexican gray wolves are important to me and the majority of voters, and their recovery can help restore ecological health to our wildlands. But there is no up-to-date, valid recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves, and new management rules for the wolves contradict the recovery recommendations of leading wolf experts.
A complete, science-based recovery plan to replace the outdated 1982 plan is way overdue; the US Fish and Wildlife Service must move forward with the release of a draft plan based on the work of the science planning subgroup for public review now.
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 that will address decreased genetic health and ensure long-term resiliency in Mexican wolf populations must move forward without delay.
[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.
Please email your letter to US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and send copies to your members of congress, whose contact information https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members. Include your full name, address, and phone number.
The most recent recovery planning process, which began in 2011, stalled amidst allegations of political interference with the science. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a scientific integrity complaint saying that USFWS has allowed politics to interfere with the new Mexican wolf recovery planning process by encouraging scientists to lower or forgo the numeric target for recovery, responding to demands to exclude Utah and other states from suitable habitat, and attempting to prevent the science subgroup from issuing final Mexican wolf recovery criteria.
United States Congressman Raul Grijalva — AZ sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior asking for a full and fair investigation of the allegations of political interference.
The American Society of Mammalogists, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Society for Ecological Restoration sent a letter to USFWS urging the government to immediately resume recovery planning for the Mexican wolf, and offering their assistance to help move the process forward.
Thank you for adding your voice on behalf of these important animals who cannot speak for themselves.