Local & Regional News

US seeks more time to rewrite Mexican wolf management rules

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted on March 16, 2021 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. wildlife officials are asking a federal judge for more time to rewrite rules that guide management of North America's rarest subspecies of gray wolf, saying they will miss a court-ordered deadline to have plans for the Mexican gray wolf formalized by May.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a recent motion filed in U.S. District Court pointed to population gains that Mexican wolves have made in the last five years but noted that further environmental and economic analysis needs to be done. The agency also cited the need to compile more data and hold public meetings if it is to meet the requirements of federal environmental laws in revamping the rules.

Lawyers for the agency also listed the pandemic and limited staff as challenges to meeting the deadline.

“The Service has fewer staff who are investing most of their time and resources into managing a larger wild population that has nearly doubled since 2014 and trying to reduce livestock conflicts and address illegal killings,” the motion stated. "Therefore, the fewer staff are having to spend the majority of their time being responsible for on-the-ground field work, which has not allowed for their substantive participation revising the rule.”

Environmentalists are opposed to more delays, saying the agency has had nearly three years to draft a final rule.

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Mexican Gray Wolf Population Grows To 186

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted on March 12, 2021 by KNAU Staff

The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest grew last year by 14%.

That’s according to the latest count by state and federal wildlife managers that found at least 186 wolves in 46 packs in eastern Arizona and New Mexico. The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the aerial count between November and January and officials say the number of Mexican gray wolves has nearly doubled in the last five years. In addition, a growing number of wolf pups survived in the wild at 64.

Environmentalists applauded the increase, but according to the Center for Biological Diversity the population is still vulnerable and needs heightened protections along with more wolf releases from captivity into the wild.

Wild population of endangered Mexican wolves keeps growing

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted on March 12, 2021 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Once on the verge of extinction, the rarest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America has seen its population nearly double over the last five years, with more gains being reported in 2020, U.S. wildlife managers said Friday.

The results of the latest annual survey show there are at least 186 Mexican gray wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. That marks the fifth straight year that the endangered species has increased its numbers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the American Southwest began more than two decades ago. The program has pitted environmentalists, rural residents and wildlife managers against one another, prompting many legal challenges over management of the effort. The latest pending case involves a rewrite of the agency's management plan for the animals.

Some of details of the survey done over the winter were included in court filings made this week.

Environmentalists said they were hopeful about the numbers but that the wolves were still in a precarious position.

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Press Release: More Than Just Numbers: Mexican Gray Wolves Still At Risk

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2021

Contacts:
Emily Renn, Executive Director, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project: (928) 202-1325, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Erin Hunt, Coordinator, Lobos of the Southwest, (928) 421-0187, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Logan Glasenapp, Attorney, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance: (505) 843-8696, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Regina H. Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Endangered Wolf Center: (636) 938-5900, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MORE THAN JUST NUMBERS: MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES STILL AT RISK
The annual Mexican gray wolf population count revealed a steady increase in numbers,
but what does it mean for the long-term survival and genetic health of these endangered Southwestern native wolves?

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) released the results of its annual wild Mexican gray wolf population count today, revealing that the number of wolves has increased to a minimum of 186 wolves. This increase of 14% from last year comes despite the critical decline in genetic health of the wild population. Each year, young wolves disperse in search of mates to form new packs, but the next generation is less likely to be more genetically diverse without the release of more wolves from captive breeding facilities participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Wolf advocates continue to celebrate the efforts of SSP facilities in both the United States and Mexico. Some of these facilities have worked with the USFWS to introduce young pups into active, wild dens in Arizona and New Mexico, a difficult process called cross-fostering. Cross-fostering efforts in 2020 were more successful than in the past, with USFWS placing a record 20 pups into dens.

“The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan is an integral partner in Mexican gray wolf conservation. In 2020, institutions in the SSP worked with USFWS under the extremely challenging conditions of the pandemic to achieve incredible success in the field, giving 20 pups an opportunity to grow up in the wild. The dedication demonstrated by the SSP and the field team are inspiring, as is the resilience of these native Southwestern wolves,” said Erin Hunt, Coordinator for Lobos of the Southwest.

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Sedona pilot flies rare cargo

Sedona Red Rock News (Original) Posted November 27, 2020 by Scott Shumaker

In April, Sedona resident Mike Schroeder departed Sedona Airport in his 10-seat King Air Turbo Prop, landed in St. Louis, picked up a black duffel bag, then flew to a remote airport in eastern Arizona. After landing, state and federal agents carefully checked and prepared the contents of the bag before handing it off to a special team to deliver to a remote, undisclosed location.

The cargo: Three chubby, yawning Mexican gray wolf pups.

Eleven days later, Schroeder picked up four more pups from Wichita, Kan.

The flights were part of a springtime mission by federal and state wildlife agencies to put captive-born Mexican wolf pups into wild wolf dens, to be raised by wild mothers.

Schroeder volunteered his time and his airplane to fly the captive-born pups from breeding facilities in the Midwest to their fur-ever homes in Arizona as a member of LightHawk Conservation Flying, an organization that connects volunteer pilots with conser­vation projects in need of air support.

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