For Immediate Release
Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Mexican Gray Wolf May Qualify for Endangered Species Protection Separate From Other Gray Wolves
Recognition Would Boost Wolf Recovery
SILVER CITY, NM - In response to a petition
from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service today determined
that the Mexican gray wolf may qualify for listing as an
endangered species separate from other wolves. A separate listing for
Mexican wolves would require replacement of the subspecies' outdated
1982 recovery plan.
"This decision breathes life into a Mexican wolf
recovery effort that has flatlined in recent years," said the Center's
Michael Robinson. "It's a step in the right direction."
Only 42 wolves, including just two breeding pairs, could
be found in the wild at last count in January 2010, representing a
19-percent decline from the previous year and the fifth straight year
of stagnant or decreasing numbers. The Center's 2009 petition cites
multiple scientific assessments that the Mexican wolf is a subspecies
of the gray wolf and also describes the peril Mexican wolves face from
persecution, habitat loss and genetic inbreeding.
"The Mexican wolf is on a trajectory to extinction,"
said Robinson. "We're confident that further action on our petition
will prod development of a new recovery plan and ultimately lead to
stronger measures to protect this unique, highly imperiled animal and
reintroduce it elsewhere in the Southwest."
A 2006 study found that other areas in the Southwest
could support wolf populations, including the Grand Canyon, southern
Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre in Mexico.
Mexican gray wolves are smaller than other gray wolves
and inhabit very different ecosystems. In 1976, the Fish and Wildlife
Service first listed the Mexican wolf as endangered separate from other
subspecies of the gray wolf, but in 1978 the agency consolidated the
various wolf subspecies listings into a single listing for gray wolves
throughout the conterminous United States, regardless of subspecies.
The 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan prescribed continued
captive breeding and reintroduction of two viable populations in the
wild. But in omitting criteria for recovery and delisting, the plan let
the Service delay the establishment of a viable reintroduced
population in the Gila and Apache national forests of New Mexico and
Arizona, respectively. It also delayed planning for additional
populations. If Mexican wolves are listed separately, the Service will
be legally required, rather than merely allowed, to update the recovery
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