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Groups file suit to protect Mexican gray wolves

Date
July 2, 2015
Contact
Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227
In This Release
Wildlife

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Groups file suit to protect Mexican gray wolves

Challenge federal policies that further imperil endangered wild wolves
Contact: Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227

Additional Contacts:

JudyCalman, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 505-843-8696, judy@nmwild.org

MichaelHarris, Friends of Animals, 720-949-7791, michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org

JohnMellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, 541-359-0990, mellgren@westernlaw.org


TUCSON—A coalition of local,regional and national conservation watchdog groups filed suittoday to ensure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that giveendangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S.range.

In January 2015, USFWS issued a final rule that refuses toconsider the only wild population of Mexican wolves as “essential” to thespecies’ recovery, arbitrarily caps the population of Mexican gray wolves at alevel far below what scientists consider necessary for recovery, preventswolves from recolonizing native habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado,and Utah, and allows more killing of Mexican wolves by federal agents andprivate landowners.

“Unfortunately,politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolfplan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorneyrepresenting the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is toput the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.”

“BanishingMexican wolves from their native habitats to appease political interests is thelatest mistake in the Service’s long history of mismanagement of the species’recovery,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarthGuardians. “The only wild population of Mexican wolves is clearly essential tothe species’ survival and recovery.”

The final ruletakes the unprecedented step of capping the Mexican wolf population at 300–325,and states that any excess wolves will be placed into captivity or killed.Capping the population is not based on the best available science and will notbenefit the conservation and recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf. Indeed,the best science shows that at least 750 wolves spread across three populationsis necessary for recovery.

The final rulefails to explain how the only population of Mexican wolves in the wild is notessential to the species’ recovery. By labeling the only Mexican wolvesremaining in the wild as “nonessential,” USFWS prevents implementation of vitalprotections that are necessary to truly recover the species.

Although the finalrule expands the geographic boundaries of the area in which Mexican wolves willbe allowed to roam, it ignores the best available science showing wolves mustrecolonize areas in the Southern Rockies and Grand Canyon to recover. Bymandating the removal of any Mexican wolf that wanders outside the arbitrary,political boundaries established by USFWS, the agency undermines Mexican wolfrecovery.

“Mexican wolveshave struggled for almost a century because of human efforts to eradicate thespecies,” said Judy Calman, staff attorney for the New Mexico WildernessAlliance. “These embattled, iconic animals shouldn’t also have to struggleagainst the very agency tasked with saving them.”

The revised rulealso allows for increased lethal take and permanent removal through placementin captivity of wild Mexican wolves. USFWS presents no scientific justificationof how removing more wolves from the wild meets its duty to conserve andrecover the Mexican wolf.

“As it standstoday, there are no excess Mexican wolves,” said Friends of Animals PresidentPriscilla Feral. “Instead, there is a dire need to protect the few remainingwolves struggling to survive, which cannot be achieved under the immoral,predatory and failed machinations of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.”

The Mexican graywolf is the smallest, rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies of graywolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, butrecovery efforts have largely foundered because USFWS has yet to do whatscience shows is necessary to restore the species.

Other Contact
Judy Calman, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 505-843-8696, judy@nmwild.org
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