FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 21, 2018
Better Use of Science and Shared Responsibility Essential for Success
TUCSON, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2018) – Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the official Mexican gray wolf count for 2017. According to the count, there are 114 lobos in Arizona and New Mexico, which is only one more than last year’s count.
Bryan Bird, Southwest program director, issued this statement:
“These numbers clearly show that more work needs to be done to recover the Mexican gray wolf. It is essential that science, not politics, guides recovery efforts for these rarest of wolves. It is also clear that we must get better at working together to resolve our human conflicts that jeopardize the future of the animals and landscapes that are so important to us.
“It has been 20 years since these wolves were first reintroduced in the wild and we've learned they can succeed, but we as humans have much more work to do. Now more than ever the wolves need a strong, science-based plan to guide their recovery; not the recently approved scheme that is a result of the same politics that led to the wolves' near extinction. These are one of the most persecuted and misunderstood animals of all time. We must do more to ensure their future and restore the ecological, cultural and economic benefits that can accompany their return"
In January, a coalition of wolf advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s flawed recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, one of North America’s most endangered mammals.
The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf 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 the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the Southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon regions.
The new recovery plan uses artificial population limits and boundaries and otherwise misconstrues data to suggest that just 320 wolves in an isolated population could represent a genetic rebound and recovery from this dangerous and deteriorating situation.
The plan limits wolves to inadequate habitat with low recovery potential, does not provide sufficient releases of genetically diverse wolves into the wild, relies excessively on Mexico for recovery and prevents wolves from occupying the very areas scientists say is essential for their recovery.
The plan allows state governments, whose wildlife commissions are not always supportive of wolves, to determine when and where new releases can occur, thwarting the likelihood of recovery.
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