Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Population Grows for First Time in Four Years

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

James Navarro, (202) 772-0247

Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Population Grows for First Time in Four Years

Defenders of Wildlife credits FWS leadership, end to excessive wolf removals

TUSCON, AZ -  The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New
Mexico has grown for the first time in four years, federal wildlife
officials announced today. The fragile population is up to at least 50
wolves and 2 breeding pairs, an increase of nearly 20 percent from this
time last year.   

These numbers are still below the historic high of 59 wolves in the wild
in 2006. But the recent growth signals that policy changes, including
an end to excessive wolf removals and a reassertion of leadership for
the recovery program by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, are beginning
to turn the tide for the Southwest’s wolves.

The following is a statement from Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife’s Southwest program director:

“This is promising news for Mexican wolves, but the Southwest’s wolves
still face many obstacles on the road to recovery. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service must take advantage of this opportunity and do
everything it can to continue growing the population, including
releasing more wolves into the wild. New wolves will help strengthen
packs and refresh gene pools, giving the population a better a chance at
survival.

“Over the past year, the Fish and Wildlife Service has taken steps to
correct the problems with its Mexican wolf recovery program. It has
assembled a team of scientists and stakeholders to draw up a new
recovery plan, established a fund to help livestock owners avoid
conflicts with wolves and to compensate for losses, and has gotten rid
of inflexible rules leading to too many wolf removals.  

“Despite slowly growing numbers, the wild population of Mexican wolves
is still extremely fragile. The Fish and Wildlife Service must move
quickly to complete a recovery plan that builds on last year’s success.”

Background:

Summary: 

  • The population of endangered Mexican gray wolves has grown for the
    first time in four years, up to at least 50 wolves and 2 breeding pairs
    in the wild – a near 20 percent increase from this time last year.
  • These numbers are still below historic highs of 59 wolves in 2006. And
    illegal killings remain the leading cause of death for Mexican wolves.
  • Defenders of Wildlife is calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    to complete a recovery plan, release more wolves into the wild and step
    up coexistence fieldwork with ranchers, helping to avoid livestock and
    wolf conflicts.

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Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

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