TUCSON, Arizona (Feb. 6, 2013) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) announced today that there were 75 Mexican gray wolves, or lobos, including 4 breeding pairs surviving in the southwestern United States at the end of last year. This represents an increase of 17 wolves from the Service’s findings in 2011.
The following is a statement from Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife’s Southwest program director:
“This increase in the number of Mexican gray wolves is good news for such a highly endangered animal. Local landowners and ranchers are making great strides in coexisting with wolves, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is following the lead of science and keeping more wolves in the wild. However, since all of these wolves are the offspring of the small number of breeding pairs in the wild, we are still facing a genetic crisis within the population. For almost 15 years, management actions have kept wild population numbers low, decreasing genetic variability and the ability of this rarest wolf subspecies to adapt and survive. This puts the entire subspecies in a very vulnerable position that requires swift action from the Service for their long-term recovery.
“Given the Service’s statutory obligation to recover Mexican gray wolves, they need to implement a genetic rescue plan immediately. Genetic rescue would mean selective breeding in captivity, perhaps using in vitro fertilization, and the release of many more wolves into the wild. What the Service does now to solve the genetic crisis will determine what happens to the recovery of the Mexican wolf.
“The Service must also finish a recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves and then implement it. The rise in wolf population numbers is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go to recover this icon of the American southwest.”
Learn more about what Defenders is doing to protect wolves nationwide
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