Mexican Gray Wolves Were Reintroduced Into The Wild Of Arizona 20 Years Ago Today; Sadly, They Are Still Fighting For Recovery

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On March 29, 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 11 wolves from captivity into the wild in Arizona as part of a program to reintroduce the imperiled wolves back to the landscape where they had been hunted, trapped, and persecuted to near extinction.

This historic release was a monumental step towards their recovery.

Sadly though, Mexican gray wolves, which are the most endangered gray wolf species, remain at severe risk; and now more than ever under the government’s ruling hand.

As per Defenders of Wildlife, there are currently only 114 wolves left in Arizona and New Mexico.

“We must put politics aside and implement efforts to recover wolves and their habitat,” Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO said in a statement. “If we are thoughtful in our approach, give these wolves a little support and get out of their way, I think we will have a great success story in Mexican gray wolf recovery.”

“The recently released recovery plan ignores science-based recommendations and leaves the species without much hope for growth,” stated Bryan Bird, the  Southwest program director of Defenders of Wildlife. “The Southwestern landscape depends on these wolves. Withholding protections would hurt the species and in turn, the entire landscape.”

As previously reported by WAN, a coalition of wolf advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s flawed recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, the best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the Southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon regions.

The new recovery plan uses artificial population limits and boundaries and otherwise misconstrues data to suggest that just 320 wolves in an isolated population could represent a genetic rebound and recovery from this dangerous and deteriorating situation.

The new plan limits wolves to inadequate habitat with low recovery potential, lacks sufficient releases of genetically diverse wolves into the wild, relies inordinately on Mexico for recovery and prevents wolves from occupying the very areas scientists say is essential for their recovery.

It also allows state governments, whose wildlife commissions are not always supportive of wolves, to determine when and where new releases can occur, thwarting the likelihood of recovery.

People are encouraged to donate to Defenders of Wildlife today and every day in honor of the Mexican gray wolves and their future survival HERE!

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