For Immediate Release
Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Wolf Recovery Sought Across Country: West Coast, New England, Colorado and Great Plains
SILVER CITY, NM - Gray wolves should be recovered in multiple, connected populations
throughout the United States, according to a scientific petition filed today by the Center for
Biological Diversity with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. The petition asks for development of a
national recovery plan for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species
Act to establish wolf populations in suitable habitat in the Pacific
Northwest, California, Great Basin, southern Rocky Mountains, Great
Plains and New England.
"Existing recovery plans for wolves in the northern
Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest are out of date and apply to a small
fraction of the wolf's historic range," said the Center's Michael
Robinson. "It's time to develop a national recovery plan to facilitate
true recovery of the gray wolf."
Currently, gray wolf populations are limited to the
northern Rocky Mountains, western Great Lakes and Southwest, which makes
up less than 5 percent of their historic range. In part, this reflects
the fact that the gray wolf has never had a national recovery plan,
though it has been listed in the entire conterminous United States
since 1978. Instead, individual recovery plans have been developed for
only the three areas that now harbor populations. These plans were
developed in the late 1970s and 1980s and are now outdated. Besides
failing to recognize that wolves can be recovered to other areas, the
plans set population goals well below what are now considered necessary
for population health and survival. In the northern Rocky Mountains,
for example, the recovery plan only called for 30 breeding pairs, split
between three subpopulations.
"Small, isolated wolf populations are a recipe for
extinction," said Robinson. "Science teaches us that we need far more
wolves that range across a much wider swath of the continent than the
current minimalistic approach."
The Center's petition starts a process in which the Fish
and Wildlife Service must make a determination on whether to develop
such a recovery plan based on the science in the petition and the
requirements of the law. The Endangered Species Act requires recovery
of endangered animals and plants throughout all significant portions of
"Wolves are an engine of evolution," said Robinson. "They
help feed bears, eagles and wolverines with the leftovers from their
kills; they help pronghorn antelope and even foxes survive by
controlling coyotes. A continent-wide approach to wolf recovery is
necessary both to save the wolf and to restore ecosystems across the
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