Several wolf advocacy organizations have joined together to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s revised Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan. The lawsuit claims that the plan, released in November 2017, is not conducive to the wolves’ recovery, ignores the best available scientific evidence and is politically motivated.
“The recovery strategy’s primary components include expanding the geographic distribution of the Mexican wolf, increasing population abundance, improving gene diversity, monitoring wild populations and implementing adaptive management, and collaborating with partners to address social and economic concerns related to Mexican wolf recovery,” according to the plan’s executive summary.
The plan claims to aim to increase the population of the wolf — killed to near extinction by deliberate eradication efforts between the mid-1800s and mid-1900s — to 320, split between two groups. The plan also includes genetic diversity criteria.
But, according to a release from the Center for Biological Diversity, the lawsuit claims that neither the population marker nor the science on which the plan was based is enough to successfully recover the wolf in the wild.
“The best available science indicates Mexican wolf recovery requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals, and establishment of at least two additional population centers in the southern Rockies and the Grand Canyon region,” the release reads. “The new plan disregarded that scientific evidence by failing to consider additional recovery areas in the United States. Instead, it shifts much of the proposed recovery effort to Mexico, where adequate wolf habitat is not available. The plan also calls for inadequate wolf numbers and fails to provide a sufficient reintroduction program to address genetic threats.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has long been critical of Fish and Wildlife’s plan as not going far enough to ensure the wolf’s well-being. The press release points to President Donald Trump’s administration for having approved the plan revision. But, the revision of the plan has unfolded in public over the last several years, including large public meetings in Grant and surrounding counties.
At those meetings, it became clear that while wolf advocacy groups — including those involved in the lawsuit — have a great deal of support, there is an equally powerful aversion to the wolf’s recovery from the area’s cattle growers, some of whom have lost cows to the less than 100 wolves currently living in the wild of Arizona and New Mexico.
The Center for Biological Diversity has joined Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, the Endangered Wolf Center, the Wolf Conservation Center and David Parsons, former Mexican wolf recovery coordinator, in challenging the revised plan.