Center for Biological Diversity Petitions for Protection of Mexican Gray Wolf

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Center for Biological Diversity Petitions for Protection of Mexican Gray Wolf

TUSCON, Ariz - The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to formally separate the Mexican gray wolf
from other wolf populations in the United States and list it as either
an endangered subspecies or a “distinct population segment.”

The
Mexican gray wolf is not currently protected as a distinct entity, and
thus the Fish and Wildlife Service has never identified coherent goals
and strategies to ensure its full recovery and removal from the
endangered species list. Lacking these goals, the recovery program has
lagged far behind recovery efforts in the northern Rocky Mountains and
Great Lakes. The current federal “recovery plan” for the Mexican gray
wolf was developed 27 years ago as an interim strategy that does not
identify the total number of needed wolves, wolf populations, or
genetic diversity needed to save the Mexican wolf. The plan has never
been updated.

Listing of Mexican wolves as a unique
subspecies or distinct population segment will require development of a
new recovery plan, including a long-term plan for establishing new
populations. Excellent habitat still remains in the southern Rocky
Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, the Grand Canyon ecosystem of
Arizona and Utah, and the Sky Islands of northern Mexico and southern
Arizona and New Mexico.

“The Mexican gray wolf is
distinct from gray wolves in the rest of the United States and deserves
strong protections and a focused recovery effort,” said Noah Greenwald,
endangered species program director at the Center. 

Although
the Mexican gray wolf was reintroduced into portions of Arizona and New
Mexico, populations have failed to grow as expected, and the population
has struggled at chronically low numbers. At the end of 2008, there
were only two breeding pairs and roughly 50 Mexican wolves in the wild.
The population had been projected to reach 18 breeding pairs and 102
wolves by 2006, but because of high mortality related primarily to
government recapture and killing, and poaching and vehicular
collisions, the populations have not met targets.     

“It’s
time for the Obama administration to breathe new life into the recovery
program for the Mexican gray wolf,” said Greenwald. “Listing the
Mexican gray wolf as a distinct entity would require development of a
new recovery plan and provide a stronger mandate to protect these
distinctive wolves.”

The current recovery plan for the Mexican wolf was finalized in 1982 and is substantially out of date.   

“The
Mexican gray wolf recovery program has been operating with one arm tied
behind its back,” said Greenwald. “It’s time to take the gloves off and
get more wolves onto the landscape.”   

The
petition asks Fish and Wildlife to list the Mexican gray wolf as either
a subspecies or distinct population segment, both of which are clearly
allowed under the Endangered Species Act. The most recent genetic work
on wolves has found that Mexican wolves are highly unique, leading the
scientists responsible for the work to conclude that they should be a
“high priority for conservation.” The scientists also found that
Mexican wolf genes were found in a large area in the Southwest as a
result of intergradation with other gray wolves, suggesting that they
could be reintroduced in an area much larger than what has typically
been considered the historic range of the subspecies. 

 

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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