More than 13 years after they were first reintroduced to the Southwest, there are still only around 50 Mexican wolves in the wild, making them the most endangered mammal in north America. More wolves are desperately needed to strengthen the wild population’s genetics and increase their numbers to more viable levels.
There are two things the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) can do right now to pull these critically endangered wolves back from the brink of extinction.
First, they should start releasing eligible captive wolves into the wilds where they belong, as quickly as possible. There are many wolves in captive facilities that could increase the wild population, but the USFWS has not released any new wolf packs into the wild since November, 2008. Meanwhile, members of the wild population have no mates or pups due to the small number of available wolves.
Second, the USFWS needs to change the rule that prohibits releasing wolves into New Mexico if they have not previously lived in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has for years been sitting on the Environmental Assessment (EA) that would make changing this problematic rule possible. Allowing direct releases in New Mexico will give wildlife managers the flexibility to get more wolves on the ground, regardless of unexpected disasters like last summer’s Wallow Fire. It will give them the ability to choose the best places for releases to succeed. And it will give these important animals a much better chance at recovery.
It’s time for the stalling to stop.
For years, scientists have said that new releases are essential to pull the small, struggling wild population of Mexican wolves back from the brink of extinction. These magnificent animals, capable of restoring the balance to our southwestern forests, cannot afford more delays or arbitrary rules that hinder their recovery.
Please contact the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today. Send them an email and and tell them it’s time to free more wolves from captivity and release the EA so that more wolves can be put into the wilds where they belong more quickly.
Mexican gray wolves need to live wild, and wild places need them.
Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar: email@example.com
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle: RDTuggle@fws.gov
Photo courtesy of Allen S.