Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wolf Conservation Center Advocates for a Wild Future



Only about 75 Mexican wolves survive in the wild, making them the most endangered wolf in the world. The “lobo” (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the North America.

This critically endangered species has struggled for a decade and a half, failing to come close to reaching the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan's population goal of 100.  According to WCC director Maggie Howell, "Artificial boundaries, state politics, illegal killings and USFWS's designation of all wild lobos as an “experimental, nonessential” population, have put recovery in a choke-hold.”

In a recent proposal, FWS has recommended that the Mexican gray wolf be relisted as a separate subspecies. It also proposes to make changes to the rules governing the recovery of Mexican wolves, as well. One good change allows more wolves to be released in more places; it is hoped that this measure will strengthen the population’s genetic health and lead this imperiled subspecies toward recovery. But, the proposal also “boxes” Mexican gray wolves in an arbitrarily defined area, preventing them from moving into the suitable habitat that scientists say is critical for recovery.  At least 2 more populations of Mexican gray wolves need to be established, but the best areas lie outside of the proposed “box;” this prevents the dispersal of new genes which is necessary to keep wolves healthy. Finally, the proposal would also limit the wild population to insufficient numbers for survival and opens up new loopholes for legal killing of these imperiled animals in certain circumstances. FWS needs to finish a science-based recovery plan and make certain that any changes to this plan support recovery instead of conflicting with it.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will hold one of only two public hearings in the country on its controversial proposed changes to the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program on November 20th in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The WCC participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for this critically endangered wolf species, and its Director, Maggie Howell,  will be joining biologists and concerned citizens for this last opportunity to express their opinions about Mexican wolves and gray wolves nationwide to federal officials, a responsibility that is critical to the survival and recovery of this rare subspecies which is still vulnerable to extinction in the wild.

What You Can Do From Home:

#StandforWolves  - Comment online! USFWS is accepting comments re: these two separate proposals until December 17th.

1) Nationwide Gray Wolf Delisting Proposal: USFWS’s proposes to remove Endangered Species Act  protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States despite wolves occupying only about 5 percent of their historic range.
2) Proposed  Rules for Mexican Wolf Reintroduction & Recovery: Although the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf, or "lobo," is exempt from USFWS's nationwide delisting proposal, lobos will be subject to other provisions that are very problematic – including the recovery area’s artificial boundaries and their re-designation as an “experimental, nonessential” population.

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