Wolf News


Wolf Supporters to Rally at New Mexico Game Commission Meeting in Silver City

Photo courtesy of Jim Clark/USFWS

For Immediate Release, April 18, 2024

Contact:Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project
Chris Smith, WildEarth Guardians
Allyson Siwik, Gila Resources Information Project
Carol Ann Fugagli, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance

Residents Support Releasing Mexican Gray Wolves as Families

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A colorful rally in support of endangered Mexican gray wolves will begin at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, April 19, outside the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center, 3031 Highway 180 East, in Silver City. The demonstration will include a person wearing an exquisitely designed costume of a Mexican wolf.

The rally will precede a New Mexico Game Commission meeting scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. The meeting will include a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish presentation on wolf management and an opportunity for public comment.

Community members will demonstrate peacefully in support of state and federal agencies resuming their former practice of releasing captive-born, well-bonded families of Mexican gray wolves together into the wild. These wolf families should be adult male and female wolves who have been paired together for at least six months and who are raising pups.

“Releasing wolves together as families gives them the best chance at survival precisely because wolves do their utmost to keep their loved ones safe,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sadly, three-quarters of the captive-born pups separated from their parents and released into the dens of wild wolves have disappeared. It’s both sensible and humane for the parents to gain their freedom alongside their pups.”

Through 2023 a total of 99 captive-born pups were released to the wild without their parents. Only 23 were subsequently located alive. Most of the remaining 76 simply disappeared, while a few were specifically confirmed to have died.

This high disappearance rate stands in sharp contrast to the high percentage of captive-born and well-bonded adults released with their pups who successfully kept many of those pups alive. Yet the last time that such a captive-born pack was released together into the wild was in 2006.

Largely because of opposition from New Mexico’s game department, and not for scientific reasons, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to resume releases of captive-born, well-bonded family packs in the state.

“The New Mexico Game Commission can help positively influence federal policies around release of Mexican gray wolves into the wild, and help to recover the species and rescue it from severe inbreeding,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “It’s important that the commissioners hear how much the public values these native wildlife species and wants to see lobos on the landscape.”

Mexican wolves in the captive population have over one-third more genetic diversity than is now found in the wild population. Effective releases of wolf families from the captive breeding population are necessary to increase the genetic diversity of the 257 wild wolves in New Mexico and Arizona. The genetic diversity in the wild population in the United States is lower than it was 20 years ago when the Service was releasing well-bonded family packs from captivity to the wild.

“We urge the New Mexico Game Commission and department staff to do more to help restore and recover this native icon of the Southwest,” said Chris Smith, southwest wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Lobos have been on life support for years — the state of New Mexico must do more to help the species truly recover by improving genetic diversity through the release of lobo families into the wild and allowing wolves like Asha to roam north of Interstate 40.”

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish must act now to ensure that the Mexican gray wolf does not disappear from this unique southwestern landscape,” said Allyson Siwik, executive director of Silver City-based Gila Resources Information Project. “The department’s support for release of well-bonded family packs is essential for the long-term survival of this iconic species.”

After Friday’s rally, the conservationists will testify, asking for the commission to support releases of well-bonded family packs to the wild and other management reforms such as allowing wolves to roam freely in northern New Mexico.

“Wolves live in family groups held together by strong social bonds,” said Carol Ann Fugagli, executive director of the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance. “The strength of those bonds remains critical to the success of Mexican gray wolf recovery. Family groups released into the wild have greater pup survival. It’s that simple, and it’s the right thing to do for this iconic ecological keystone species.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Gila Resources Information Project safeguards community health by protecting our environment and natural resources in southwest New Mexico.

The Upper Gila Watershed Alliance promotes the long-term health of the Upper Gila Watershed and its communities of life.

Western Watersheds Project is a west-wide conservation organization with 14,000 members and supporters who care deeply about protecting public lands for native wildlife.

WildEarth Guardians protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.

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