ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the long-awaited final Mexican gray wolf recovery plan on Wednesday, the first update to the plan since 1982.
A draft of the plan was released in July for public comment and received more than 100,000 comments, said FWS wolf recovery coordinator Sherry Barrett.
It also underwent multiple peer reviews.
“The final recovery plan does look fairly similar to the draft,” Barrett said during a conference call on Wednesday morning.
The target number of wolves required for downlisting the species from “endangered” to “threatened” – 320 individuals in the U.S. – remains the same, although the threshold for the Mexican population was increased from 170 to 200 individuals.
Language was clarified on a stipulated “cap” of 320 on the U.S. population that had environmental groups worried.
The plan also clarifies the role of the states of New Mexico and Arizona in wolf releases.
The draft had given states the authority to determine the timing and location of releases, which had also alarmed wolf advocacy groups.
Barrett said FWS will have more say in the new plan.
The final plan did not adjust the wolf’s experimental range that is relegated to south of I-40 in Arizona and New Mexico, which had been one of the primary criticisms of the draft.
At last count in 2016, there were 113 wolves in the United States and around 31 in Mexico.
Barrett said they expect the wolf’s recovery to be complete in 25 to 35 years.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which, along with other environmental groups filed the lawsuit that forced FWS to revise the 1982 plan by November 2017, said the plan remains inadequate for the wolf’s recovery.
Robinson said they will likely sue over the plan.
Show your support for Mexican wolves with a Letter to the Editor today!
The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers. Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Don’t try to include all the talking points in your letter.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required, by law, to incorporate the best available science into its Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. Unfortunately, they have scrapped this duty in order to attain the best political deal they could find. They have chosen to make hostile state agencies happy rather than uphold their duty to consider the best available science. The previous recovery planning science team clearly identified what these wolves need, yet those findings are being ignored.
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is giving too much control over the Mexican gray wolf recovery program to the states who have done everything in their power to sabotage the species’ recovery. Arizona Game and Fish ran the program for six years previously, and in that time they managed to reduce the number of wolves in the wild. The serious genetic problems the wild population is in is a direct result of the mismanagement by Arizona. If this plan is not dramatically changed, it will very likely drive the lobo to extinction.
• The Mexican gray wolf recovery plan includes reckless delisting criteria for the critically endangered wolf. One criteria for delisitng states twenty-two wolves released from captivity must reach reproductive age. But just reaching reproductive age does not ensure their genes will be contributed to the wild population. We have seen that poaching is a major threat to individual wild wolves and if these wolves are killed before they breed, the species will still be removed from the endangered species list.
• Mexican gray wolves will need connectivity between wild populations in order to recover. Connectivity would be easy were they allowed to establish in the two additional suitable habitats in the U.S., the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies. Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is restricting the wolves to south of Interstate 40 and planning for no natural connectivity with the population in Mexico. There is a barrier along large sections of the international border, talk of extending that barrier to an impenetrable wall, and the last wolf who crossed that border was removed from the wild.
• The federal agency charged with recovery of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf has decided to put the onus of recovery on Mexico, despite the fact that this could wipe the species out. Mexico does not have nearly as much public land for the wolf, they have very little enforcement to deal with poaching, and as species shift north in response to climate change Mexican habitat will become even less suitable for wolves.
Make sure you:
• Thank the paper for publishing the article
• Submit your letter as soon as possible. The chance of your letter being published declines after a day or two since the article was published
• Do not repeat any negative messages from the article, such as “so and so said that wolves kill too many cows, but…” Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article
• Keep your letter brief, under 350 words
• Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.”
• Provide your name, address, phone number, and address. The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.
Learn More About the Flawed Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan
~ Read the finalized Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan HERE.
~ Scientists and Wolf Biologists speak out against Recovery Plan
~ Below is the Draft Plan that was released in June of 2017 and "supporting" documents.
Additional Documentation Referenced in Draft Plan: