Federal authorities have counted eight more Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest this year, the first increase in the population of the controversial species in four years.
In another encouraging sign for the animals, 14 are wild-born pups, twice the number counted last year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a count of 29 of the wolves in Arizona and 21 in New Mexico. Last year it counted 42 wolves in the high deserts and mountains on the two states’ borders.
“We are relieved the trend line is up, but these wolves are still highly imperiled,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. He credited former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with helping revive the population by calling for an end to government trapping of some of the predators in 2007.
Ranchers have complained that the wolves endanger their livestock and children. The animals once thickly populated the region, but were basically wiped out by government efforts to eradicate them and protect livestock. “¦
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