Local & Regional News

US wildlife managers tout wolf cross-fostering efforts

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted June 7, 2021 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A record 22 captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups have been placed into dens in the wild in the southwestern U.S. to be raised by surrogate packs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday.
The agency called this year’s cross-fostering season a success, saying the endangered predators that have been part of the fostering program over the last six years have helped to boost genetic diversity among the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.

Officials said that over the last two months, nine pups were fostered into three different packs in eastern Arizona and 13 were placed with five packs in western New Mexico. Last year, 20 pups were placed into dens in the wild.
Jim deVos, the Mexican wolf coordinator with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said in a statement that the fostering program is built on partnerships with private organizations that are part of a nationwide captive breeding effort.

The captive-born pups came from litters at facilities in New Mexico, Texas and Missouri.

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Enough habitat exists to support return of Mexican wolves in Southwest, study says

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted March 18, 2021 by Kevin Pirehpour for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A U.S.-Mexico partnership could aid the long-term recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the North American gray wolf, and its eventual removal from the U.S. endangered species list, according to a new study.

In a peer-reviewed study, researchers from several universities in Mexico, the University of Arizona and wildlife officials found that a suitable habitat exists in the southwestern U.S. and the Occidental and Oriental ranges of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico where Mexican wolves can be restored to their “historical ecological role” in the wild.

The Mexican wolf population – formerly known as the Mexican gray wolf and found in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico – was nearly exterminated from the wild in the early 1970s, and Arizona wildlife officials agree that recovery of this “keystone species” requires coordination.

In 1998, the first four Mexican wolves were reintroduced into the Arizona wild through a cooperative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service. Today, Arizona has nearly 20 times that number of wolves living in the wild, and dozens more roam across the state line in New Mexico.

“Let’s look at the overall program, not just the U.S. program, not just the Arizona program,” said Jim deVos, assistant director for wildlife management at the Arizona Game & Fish Department. “Let’s look at the true recovery of the Mexican wolf and reestablish it as a component of biodiversity.”

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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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