At last count earlier this year, just 50 highly endangered Mexican gray wolves roamed a small portion of New Mexico and Arizona. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under pressure to kill or remove some of these wolves for depredating on livestock.
From the inception of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in 1998 up until 2008, federal agents shot 11 wolves, accidentally killed 18 wolves during capture, and captured dozens that would never again be released to the wild.
In 2008, shooting and trapping of wolves in response to depredations was suspended because of public outrage, conservation litigation, and opposition by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and then-governor Bill Richardson.
But things have changed. Today, the livestock industry continues to push for the removal of all wolves from the wild. Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) has taken the same stance, and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez appointed game commissioners who withdrew the state game department’s participation from the Mexican wolf reintroduction program.
Poor husbandry practices and severe overstocking of a drought-stricken southwestern landscape have rendered cattle even more vulnerable and displaced elk from lands they need to graze.
The Obama administration seems too eager to strike deals with its Republican critics, including in reducing protections for wolves outside the Southwest.
The Fish and Wildlife has bent time and again to the pressure to shoot and trap wolves in the past. Don’t let this happen again.
Individual, personal messages will have the greatest impact-you can use the talking points below and also write about your personal connection to wolves.
With only 50 Mexican wolves in the wild, they are at the brink of extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service should be managing for their recovery and increasing their numbers in the wild.
Wolves are intelligent, family-oriented animals. Shooting and trapping them disrupts their packs, separates mated pairs, and can leave pups without parents.
Despite the cessation of wolf removals, the number of depredations has actually steadily decreased in the past three years. Reverting to wolf removals now would undercut continued efforts at coexistence.
Stock owners have a responsibility to be good stewards and share the land with wolves, who are a natural part of the landscape and essential to the balance of nature.
You can also help by hosting a home screening of Lords of Nature for your friends and family members and asking them to take action. We offer full support to make your home-screening easy and successful. Click here for more information.
More in-depth information about the history of the Mexican wolf reintroduction and the devastating impact of federal wolf removals is here.
Photo: Mexican gray wolf family courtesy of the Endangered Wolf Center