Press Release: Albuquerque Hosts Sole Public Hearing on Endangered Mexican Wolves
Albuquerque, NM 87192
For Immediate Release, September 24, 2013
Contact for media: David Parsons
Because the proposals exclude most of the modern science that informs recovery of the Southwest's native wolves, and could push our lobos closer to extinction, the hearing is expected to draw broad public participation. Recent polls show the majority loves wolves.
Two other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) hearings - in Sacramento, California, and Washington, D.C. - are drawing attention to the FWS's proposal to remove most gray wolves from the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act nationwide. Mexican gray wolves, however, are the only U.S. gray wolf proposed to stay on the list as an "endangered" subspecies, and the Albuquerque hearing will focus on proposed regulations to revamp the 15-year-old lobo reintroduction program.
Just 75 Mexican wolves survive in New Mexico and Arizona. Past rules have been too lenient in allowing federal wolf trapping and shooting primarily to address interactions between wolves and livestock, which graze on public lands. Also, the federal government has been loathe to prosecute Mexican wolf poachers. Progress and planning toward recovering Mexican wolves to safe numbers in the wild has stalled.
"The content of these proposals is critical to the survival and recovery of Mexican wolves, which are still vulnerable to extinction in the wild. This public hearing will be the last opportunity for a long time for concerned citizens to express their views about Mexican wolves and gray wolves nationwide to federal officials," said David R. Parsons, Wildlife Biologist, and former coordinator of the FWS's Mexican wolf recovery program. Parsons is now with The Rewilding Institute, an Albuquerque-based conservation think tank.
Parsons and scientists assigned to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team maintain that releases from captivity must be resumed and Mexican wolves must be allowed to live in additional areas with good habitat to secure their recovery.
The federal proposal would allow release of captive-bred wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and allow wolves to roam outside of current boundaries. But in a sop to politics, the proposal would stop wolves from reaching important suitable habitats north of Interstate 40 and south of I-10 by ordering their capture and return to the prescribed area. Also harmful, the proposal would limit the wild population to insufficient numbers for survival and open up new loopholes for legal killing of wolves and control of wolves by agency managers.
The public hearing will last from 6 - 9 p.m., Friday, October 4, 2013, at the Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque.
Conservation groups will hold a Save the Lobo event in the same location prior to the hearing. The event will begin at 3:30, with information tables, light refreshments, and wolf related art activities for children. Defenders of Wildlife will provide training from 4:00 - 4:45 p.m. to help people prepare for the hearing, and hearing signups and a rally will begin at 4:45.
OCTOBER 4 IN ALBUQUERQUE
For information on the Save the Lobo event and US Fish and Wildlife Service hearing in Albuquerque on October 4, click here.
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