A special message from Wolfwatcher's Southwest Regional Director, Daniel Sayre
At the time of this notification, approximately fifty-eight highly endangered Mexican gray wolves inhabit portions of Arizona and New Mexico known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The plan was to re-establish a population of at least one-hundred Mexican gray wolves by 2006.
Since the initial release of thirteen wolves in 1998, the highest population achieved was fifty-nine in 2006. There have been no new releases since 2008, while illegal shootings have claimed forty-three, agency lethal control has claimed twelve, and yet another one-hundred-forty-one have been either permanently or temporarily removed from the wild.
The initial Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, approved in 1982, and now outdated, provided guidance for the propagation of Mexican gray wolves in captive breeding programs and for the establishment of a viable population of wild wolves through reintroduction into the wild.
The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, spanning south-central Arizona and New Mexico, encompasses an area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. Fort Apache Indian Reservation, in support of Mexican gray recovery, provides an additional 1.5 million acres of land for recovery habitat. The total Recovery Area encompasses approximately 6 million acres, the vast majority of which is public land.
There are several factors to be considered when discussing the Mexican gray wolf recovery program:
- The wolves have done what is necessary to perpetuate their species. They have formed packs, hunted successfully, and most importantly, had pups.
- The program has been hampered by unnecessary and destructive agency removals. While SOP 13 (Standard Operating Procedure 13) was active, removals and lethal actions were taken on wolves, regardless of how genetically valuable the individuals were.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently determined that the Mexican gray wolf was being hampered by genetic inbreeding, illegal shooting, and the lack of a comprehensive management plan. At that time a Science and Planning Subgroup was formed. This group, made up of eight experts, unanimously determined that multiple population groups of between 200 and 350 wolves is necessary for Mexican gray recovery. Political pressure, perhaps inappropriate, has essentially brought the program to a standstill. It has been suggested that proactive planning for the recovery of the species essentially ended in May due to undue political pressure.
Our Mexican gray wolves, once functionally extinct in the wild, and brought from the edge of extinction by capturing seven survivors, are once again in dire danger due to genetic inbreeding, political interference, and lack of a full and comprehensive recovery plan.
Watch for our alerts in coming weeks and months to learn how you can be make a difference for this most unique and rare subspecies of gray wolf. It is up to all of us to make sure the historic journey of the original thirteen does not once again end in extinction. For more information, please feel free to contact Daniel Sayre. For additional information about Mexican gray wolves please visit Lobos of the Southwest and the USFWS Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.
Wolfwatcher Urges You to Support Regional Organizations
South Rim, Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is planning a fun campaign, Paseo del Lobo, which is a 400 mile relay hike from the White Mountains of Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon along the path of natural dispersal for wolves.
The campaign will run from July 8th through October and hikers and volunteers are needed for this great event!
If you are interested in volunteering, or would like to participate on one or more of the scheduled sections, especially the July 8th through July 13th portion, visit our friends at the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.
Best regards to all from the Board of Directors,
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Dave Hornoff, Nancy Warren, Maggie Howell, Chris Cross, Daniel Sayre, Diane Bentivegna, Cindy White Overton
Thank you to our friends at the National Wolfwatcher Coalition for this alert!
Photo of Mexican gray wolf courtesy of Trisha Shears
Photo of Daniel Sayre, courtesy of National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Photo of Grand Canyon, south rim at sunset courtesy of Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz