Lawsuit challenges federal plan for Mexican gray wolves

Wildlife advocates say arbitrary caps on population and habitat won’t allow for full recovery of the species

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say a federal plan to cap the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 animals won’t ensure the long-term survival of the species, and they’re going to court to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range.

At issue is a final federal rule issued early this year that would likely prevent the wolves from recolonizing suitable habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.” Continue reading

Biodiversity: Can the courts help save Mexican gray wolves?

Lawsuit seeks to have Mexican gray wolves protected as a separate subspecies

Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlife conservation advocates are hoping to get some help from federal courts in their quest to prevent Mexican gray wolves from falling over the precipice of extinction.

The Center for Biological Diversity this week sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today over the agency’s rejection of a 2009 scientific petition from the center that sought classification of the Mexican gray wolf as an endangered subspecies or population of gray wolves.

Mexican wolves are currently protected as endangered along with all other wolves in the lower 48 states, with the exception of those in the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region. The lawsuit claims that protection as a subspecies will help ensure Mexican gray wolf recovery. Continue reading

Wildlife: Lawsuit filed to boost Mexican gray wolf recovery

A Mexican Gray wolf. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Conservation advocates say lack of releases is threatening genetic diversity

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates are going to court to try and boost recovery efforts for the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico by forcing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release more of the animals into the wild.

Specifically, the lawsuit challenges the agency’s failure to respond to a 2004 petition calling for implementation of sweeping reforms in the management of the Mexican gray wolf population, which has grown by a scant three animals over the past eight years, leaving only 58 wolves in the wild today.

In 2001, a panel of scientists called for an immediate reduction in the number of Mexican gray wolves removed from the wild, as well as an increase in the number released. But faced with intense local opposition to wolf restoration, the agency has failed to act on the recommendations. Continue reading

Feds to kill endangered wolf in New Mexico

Mexican gray wolves are struggling in the Southwest. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Conservation activists say shooting is unnecessary; push for better livestock protection and management

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Bowing to local political pressure, federal biologists say they will shoot an endangered Arizona wolf that has been killing livestock — despite the fact that its pack is surviving mainly on elk, and that ranchers have been fully reimbursed for their losses.

Wolf conservation advocates said the kill order is a throwback to Bush-era wildlife policies that don’t make sense as endangered Mexican gray wolves struggle to hold their own in the Southwest. Continue reading

Southwestern gray wolf population growing slowly

Advocates say more releases needed to bolster populations

Mexican gray wolf. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

The latest wolf-location map from Arizona and New Mexico.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Taking a small step away from the brink of extinction, the Mexican gray wolf population grew for the second year in a row.

According to the latest census there are now 26 wolves in New Mexico and 32 wolves in Arizona. Most importantly for the success of the recovery program, the number of breeding pairs increased from just two in each of the preceding annual counts to six in 2011.

That increase came despite the fact that the massive Wallow Fire in Arizona burned through inportant denning habitat.

Federal officials say continued collaboration and reduction in livestock losses is key to developing the social acceptance needed for successful long-term recovery.

“Building public tolerance by those who live on the land and must coexist with the wolf is so very important to the success of Mexican wolf recovery in Arizona,” said  Arizona Game and Fish Department director Larry Voyles.

The latest wolf census  shows that 18 pups born during 2011 have survived, boosting the total population to 58, up from 42 just a couple of years ago. There may be other pups living in the wild that weren’t detected in the surveys, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Previous annual reports are online here. Continue reading

New Mexico ends wolf recovery partnership with feds


State move will make recovery more difficult; only 50 wolves roam in New Mexico and Arizona

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New Mexico has ended its partnership with the federal government on trying to restore the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf to the state. The state’s game commission voted unanimously last week to end the collaboration after ranchers expressed concern about livestock predation. More on the federal recovery effort at this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page.

The vote disappointed a passionate crowd of about 100 wolf supporters who had rallied before the commission meeting and flouted the recommendations of 13 state and national conservation groups that had written to the governor to applaud the game department’s role in wolf recovery and suggest improvements.

“New Mexico’s governor sided with an intransigent, wolf-hating livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Ironically, withdrawing state participation will undercut successful proactive efforts to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts, and could lead to an increase in livestock losses.” Continue reading


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