Lawsuit Filed to Cut Through Red Tape Entangling Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery

For Immediate Release

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Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Lawsuit Filed to Cut Through Red Tape Entangling Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M. - The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to act on a petition
filed last August that would reshape and reinvigorate the Mexican gray
wolf recovery effort. The petition seeks to accord the Mexican gray wolf
a place on the endangered species list as an endangered subspecies or a
"distinct population segment" separate from other gray wolf populations
in the United States.

"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 Michael
Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to
make a preliminary determination, within 90 days, as to whether
petitions to list species as threatened or endangered present
substantial information supporting the listing. The deadline on the
Center's petition for the Mexican gray wolf expired in November 2009
with no action.

"It's time for the Obama
administration to breathe new life into the recovery program for the
Mexican gray wolf," said Robinson. "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 federal recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf was
developed in 1982 as an interim strategy and does not identify the
total number of wolves, distribution of wolf populations, or genetic
diversity needed to save the Mexican wolf. Twice the Fish and Wildlife
Service convened recovery teams to update that plan, but both times the
agency aborted the process, leaving the plan unchanged for 28 years.
Development of a new recovery plan would likely include identification
of additional recovery areas in which to establish new Mexican wolf
populations through reintroduction or natural migration, including
potentially the Grand Canyon, Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, Sky
Island Mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico, and southern Rocky
Mountains.

"Actions that scientists first
identified a decade ago as important to survival and recovery of the
Mexican wolf, still have not been implemented," said Robinson. "This is
a direct consequence of operating in a vacuum without a modern recovery
plan and the lack of recognition of the Mexican gray wolf as a distinct
entity."

Listing of the Mexican gray wolf and a new
recovery plan will also provide guidance for better management of the
sole existing wild population in the Gila National Forest of New
Mexico, Apache National Forest of Arizona, and the Fort Apache Indian
Reservation in Arizona. At the end of 2008, that population stood at 52
animals and just two breeding pairs, which falls short of the projected
102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs by the end of 2006 expected
under the reintroduction program. The end-of-2009 annual Mexican wolf
census is currently underway.

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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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