For Immediate Release, July 16th, 2017
Albuquerque, NM – On June 29th the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released its draft recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf. The critically endangered species is in the midst of a genetic crisis brought on by indiscriminate removals, a very small founder population, and the unwillingness of the Service to release enough wolves into the wild. The recovery plan has not been updated since 1982, a full sixteen years before Mexican gray wolves were first released. The newest recovery plan was created by collaborating exclusively with four southwestern states that have shown hostility towards the program, resulting in a plan that may doom the wolves. Representatives of these states have replaced the expert independent wolf biologists and related experts who were a central part of the last attempt at recovery planning which began in 2011. And all non-governmental stakeholders were cut out of the continued recovery planning process. The resulting draft plan hands total power over releases, wolf genetics, and the success of the program to the states.
Despite strong public support for wolf recovery in the southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico, where the wolves live now, and Utah and Colorado, where they will need to expand in the future, state game agencies have been actively sabotaging the wolves’ chances to recover. “They have been spending tax payer money on anti-wolf lobbyists, supporting increased killing of wolves, denying permits, and suing the federal government to stop needed wolf releases,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center.
The law says recovery plans must be based on the best available science, but the states have instead told the Service what they will accept – too few wolves to ever be safe from extinction, and where they will accept them – mostly in Mexico, where neither the states nor the US government has any authority. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scrapped a science-based, multi-stakeholder recovery planning process and willfully invited the states who have demonstrated their hostility to Mexican wolves to rewrite the recovery plan,” said Dave Parsons of Project Coyote. “The last time the Fish and Wildlife service allowed the states to manage Mexican wolf recovery, the population declined by 24% over a six year period.” The paper Four States’ Efforts to Derail Wolf Recovery was released to the public today. It details the various ways the four states have tried to block or frustrate recovery of the Mexican gray wolf.
Without immediate attention to releasing more wolves in more places, this rare little wolf of the southwest United States and northern Mexico will disappear forever. Unfortunately, the draft recovery plan completely turns over the control of releases in the U.S. to the states of Arizona and New Mexico. Given their previous unwillingness to release enough wolves in their states, and their blocking of all releases of adults, the future of our iconic southwestern lobos looks grim.
The Wolf Conservation Center is an environmental education organization committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf. Through wolves the WCC teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. For more information, visit www.nywolf.org.
Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.projectcoyote.org.
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CLICK HERE for more information about the Recovery Plan and how to submit your comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Helpful talking points are provided.