Wolf News


Press Release: State of New Mexico Issues ‘Sophie’s Choice’ on Mexican gray wolf pups

Expert: Bryan Bird, 505-395-7332, bbird@defenders.org
Media contact: Haley McKey, 202-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

State of New Mexico Issues ‘Sophie’s Choice’ on Mexican Gray Wolf Pups

SANTA FE, N.M. (May 4, 2017) — Today it was reported that the Department of Game and Fish in New Mexico has permitted the release of two Mexican gray wolf pups into the wild but only under the condition that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) remove two wild-born pups and place them into captivity.

Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“The state of New Mexico is trying to force a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ between wolves that are already in the wild versus adding to the population with two pups that may benefit the entire wolf gene pool. This is an absurd condition and the antics coming out of the state of New Mexico are inexcusable. Only recently did the 10th Circuit Court lift an injunction placed on any new wolf releases in New Mexico.

“Now that the court has spoken, the state wants to play more games with the future of this species that is already racing towards extinction. We need more wolves and less politics. The State of New Mexico should let the scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do whatever is necessary to help rebuild the wild population of the world’s most endangered gray wolf species.”


Mexican gray wolves, or lobos, are the most endangered gray wolf subspecies in the world. Lobos are facing low numbers and a genetic crisis in the wild. Limited genetic diversity in the wild can result in smaller litters and lower pup survival — a recipe for extinction.

In May 2016, the state of New Mexico filed suit against FWS requesting a preliminary injunction to halt all Mexican gray wolf releases into the wild within the state. In June 2016, a federal court granted New Mexico the preliminary injunction, halting all Mexican gray wolf releases within the state. As interveners in the case between the state and FWS, Defenders and our partners appealed that ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Defenders represented the Center of Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance in the case.

On April 25 2017, The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to lift the preliminary injunction allowing further releases of highly endangered Mexican gray wolves into the wild within New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should now resume wolf releases within the state without any conditions for removal of a commensurate number of wolves.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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