#LoboWeek Highlights the Plight of One of North America’s Most Endangered Mammals
Earthjustice original photo essay features the story of “Trumpet,” a wolf pup who offers hope for her kind
San Francisco — From March 26-April 1, Earthjustice joins wolf centers, zoos, and conservation organizations to celebrate #LoboWeek to highlight the importance of Mexican gray wolves, an endangered subspecies of gray wolf native to the American Southwest. On March 29, 1998, 11 captive Mexican gray wolves were restored to the wild in Arizona and New Mexico as part of a federal recovery program under the Endangered Species Act. This month marks the 19th anniversary of the return of these wolves to their native habitat.
To mark the occasion, Earthjustice unveils “The Lobo’s Lament,” featuring the story of F1143, a female wolf affectionately named “Rosa” and her pup, “Trumpet.” Born at the Wolf Conservation Center in Westchester, N.Y., Rosa and Trumpet’s story shines a light on the plight of their kind and the hope for their future recovery if only federal agencies adopt a science-based recovery plan for the wolf.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or “lobo,” is the most genetically distinct lineage of gray wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. All Mexican gray wolves today are the descendants of just seven wolves.
Decades of politically-motivated intervention have hindered the release of more wolves and stalled the revitalization of the wild population. Last year, an Earthjustice victory compelled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin drafting a plan that could recover the lobos in the wild. However, legislative meddling is already jeopardizing this process. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has introduced legislation to dictate the terms of a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf and would hand the recovery process entirely over to special interests that have a long record of hostility toward these wolves.
“It’s been 19 years since lobos were reintroduced into the wild, but they still linger on the brink of extinction because the Fish and Wildlife Service has let politics, not science, drive its work,” said Earthjustice attorney Heidi McIntosh. “Senator Flake’s legislation would make things even worse by arbitrarily preventing wolves from dispersing north of Interstate 40 to needed habitat in Arizona and New Mexico and would automatically strip them of protection under the Endangered Species Act once a population goal was reached, blocking that decision from judicial review.”
To learn more about Mexican gray wolves and their tenuous toehold on survival read Earthjustice feature: The Lobo’s Lament.
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