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Gray Wolf Spotted in Grand Canyon National Park for First Time in Over 70 Years

October 30, 2014
Drew Kerr (312) 375-6104
In This Release

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Gray Wolf Spotted in Grand Canyon National Park for First Time in Over 70 Years

Wandering Wolf Would Lose Protections Under Federal Plan
Contact: Drew Kerr (312) 375-6104

Additional Contacts:

Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017
Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, (928) 606-5850

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.— For thefirst time since the 1940s, a gray wolf is roaming the North Rim of the GrandCanyon. The wolf, which is wearing an inactive radio collar, is likely a graywolf that dispersed from the northern Rocky Mountains. The intrepid wolf iscurrently fully protected under the Endangered Species Act, which prohibitskilling, wounding or harassing the animal and provides other protections.However, those protections could be stripped under the Obama administration’sproposed plan to remove wolves from the list of protected species.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that a wolf managed to travel sofar to reclaim the Grand Canyon as a home for wolves,” said Michael Robinson, awolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This wolf’s journeystarkly highlights the fact that wolf recovery is still in its infancy and thatthese important and magnificent animals continue to need Endangered Species Actprotections.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly sought toremove endangered species protections for wolves. The latest proposal, whichthe agency scheduled to be finalized late this year, would eliminateprotections for the Grand Canyon wolf and likely erase any chance it will bejoined by a potential mate from the north.

“In the early 1900s over 30 wolves on the North Kaibab,including Grand Canyon National Park, were killed by government hunters,” saidKim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “Thepossibility that a determined wolf could make it to the Canyon region is causefor celebration, and we must insist that every effort be taken to protect thisbrave wanderer.”

“Wolves like this one at the Grand Canyon and OR-7demonstrate that, when protected, wolves will naturally recolonize their nativehabitats, restoring balance to wounded landscapes,” said Drew Kerr, carnivoreadvocate with WildEarth Guardians. “Without Endangered Species Act protections,however, wolves will likely be relegated to a few National Parks in a tinyportion of their historic range.”

Wolves have returned to less than 10 percent of their historic range in thelower 48 states. Scientists identified the Grand Canyon ecosystem as one ofthree in the Southwest, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s BlueRange Wolf Recovery Area where Mexican gray wolves now roam and the southernRocky Mountains, capable of supporting a robust and ecologically viable wolfpopulation. Such populations, linked to each other through wolves’ famouspropensity to wander, would help avoid extinction and ensure the species’recovery.

In other regions, including the Pacific Northwest, wolvesthat dispersed from their natal packs have successfully found new homes andestablished new populations. Wolves face intense hostility and persecution inmany areas, which would likely increase without legal protections.

The biological phenomenon called a trophic cascadedescribes benefits that flow through an ecosystem because of an apex carnivore’sreturn. Wolves cause deer and elk herds to move more naturally, preventingovergrazing of streamside habitats. This permits the reestablishment of shadetrees and bushes, like native aspen, cottonwood and willow, providing improvedhabitat for fish, beavers and songbirds. Even other large carnivores, likegrizzly bears, benefit from the wolves’ return.

The Center forBiological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization withmore than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection ofendangered species and wild places.

Grand CanyonWildlands Council works to protect and restore wild nature in the Grand CanyonEcoregion.

WildEarth Guardiansis a non-profit organization working to protect and restore the wildlife, wildplaces, wild rivers and health of the American West.

Other Contact
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017 Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, (928) 606-5850
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