Local & Regional News

Federal agency outlines a plan to curb illegal killings of imperiled Mexican gray wolf

The Arizona Republic (Original) Posted April 14, 2022 by Lindsey Botts

Federal officials released a set of steps this week meant to curb the illegal killing of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. Under the plan, the agency would work with state wildlife managers to increase education and outreach in communities where wolves live.

The new proposals stem from a 2018 lawsuit filed by a slew of conservation organizations that said the Trump administration's plan failed to follow the best available science on wolf recovery.

Conservations groups, including two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, praised the inclusion of additional measures to curb vehicle accidents but fear the measures intended to reduce shootings, such as outreach and education, are a continuation of what’s already being done.

In October, a federal court judge in Arizona partially agreed that the plan was inadequate. They said it failed to address the illegal killing of wolves, or poaching. Human-caused mortality is the leading cause of death for Mexican wolves and is the main threat to their continued survival.

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Feds count a record number of wild Mexican gray wolves, but advocates want to see more

The Arizona Republic (Original) Posted March 31, 2022 by Lindsey Botts

Federal officials said Wednesday they had recorded the highest number of Mexican gray wolves in the wild since recovery efforts for the endangered species began in 1998.

There were at least 196 individual wolves across the two-state protected habitat at the end of 2021, a population increase of 5%, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal manager of threatened and endangered species.

The record number included at least 112 wolves in New Mexico and 84 in Arizona. It also included cross-fostered pups, animals that were released from captivity and placed into wild packs to boost genetic diversity. Last year, the agency released 22.

While the count is lower than wildlife managers projected, this is the sixth year in a row that the population increased, continuing an upward trend that, by federal recovery standards, suggests recovery efforts are working.

“We are happy to see the wild population of Mexican wolves continue to grow year after year,” said Brady McGee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican wolf recovery coordinator, in a press release. “The service and our partners remain focused on recovery through improving the genetic health of the wild population and reducing threats, while also working to minimize conflicts with livestock.”

While many conservation groups applaud the bump in numbers, they say there's still room for improvement.

"I'm pretty satisfied that the population is continuing to increase despite a diversity of growing pressures against the program," said Craig Miller, the senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

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Growth slows for endangered Mexican gray wolf population

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted March 31, 2021 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are now more Mexican gray wolves roaming the southwestern U.S. than at any time since the federal government started to reintroduce the endangered species, wildlife managers said Wednesday.

The results of the latest annual survey of the wolves show there are at least 196 in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona — the sixth straight year that wolf population has increased.

But officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the population's growth in 2021 was tempered by higher than average pup mortality. Life was made more difficult for the wolves because of a persistent drought that has resulted in low precipitation and scant snowpack, the officials said.

Fewer than 40% of pups survived through the end of the year, though more breeding pairs were recorded in 2021.

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Between two wolves

Taos News (Original) Posted March 23, 2022 by Geoffrey Plant

Taos County could become a meeting place for two species of gray wolf

Northern New Mexico may be sandwiched between two ongoing wolf reintroduction programs, and while Taos County residents probably won’t hear these animals howling any time soon, scientists have found the region would provide a suitable habitat for Mexican gray wolves and support connectivity to other wolf populations.

Meanwhile, howling among ranchers, government agencies and environmental groups who supported the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in southwest New Mexico and eastern Arizona — where wolves have come into conflict with cattle — might be a little quieter in Taos County, if comments made at a Taos Soil and Water Conservation meeting last month are any indication.

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Two pairs of endangered Mexican gray wolves released into the wild in Mexico

KNAU - Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted March 10, 2021 by Ryan Heinsius

Wildlife officials in Mexico have released two pairs of Mexican gray wolves into the wild. It comes as the status the endangered animals has improved slightly in the country.

Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas recently released the captive wolves from southern New Mexico in two locations in the state of Chihuahua. It brings the country’s total in the wild to 45, and also represents a small improvement in the animal’s status there from "probably extinct in the wild" to “in danger of extinction.”

The animal’s range is thought to have once extended from the American Southwest, where at last count there were at least 186 wild Mexican wolves, down to the Mexico City area. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, bolstering the population in Mexico is an important part of the species’ recovery.

"These efforts show that through international cooperation, recovery efforts are moving forward in Mexico and contradict the contention of some critics that recovery can't occur in that country," said Game and Fish's Mexican wolf recovery coordinator Jim deVos in a press statement.

Wolf advocates in the U.S. are applauding the recovery efforts. But Emily Renn, executive director of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, wants to see more such releases occur in New Mexico and Arizona, not just Mexico.

"It’s ironic that AZGFD is touting the Mexican releases of well-bonded adult pairs while simultaneously opposing these same kinds of releases in Arizona," said Renn. "It should not be a trade-off of supporting wolf recovery in one place or the other but working to achieve meaningful recovery of Mexican gray wolves in both countries.”

In recent years, wildlife officials have focused mainly on cross-fostering captive born pups in the wild to increase genetic diversity.

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