Local & Regional News

Killing of Mexican Wolf Highlights Why Recovery Is Failing

Sierra magazine (Original) Posted November 20, 2022 by Lindsey Botts

Here are three key things that conservationists say need to happen to turn things around

Advocates and conservationists are increasingly worried about the plight of critically endangered Mexican wolves. While the wild population, which spans eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, has grown slightly, recovery has been slow and incremental. And the recent death of a genetically valuable male last month in New Mexico highlights why.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is failing to protect wolves against even the most basic threats, such as illegal killing. Over the years, conservation groups have tried to force FWS to do its job, primarily using the courts. Some have sued the agency at least half a dozen times for failing to comply with the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

For its part, FWS has largely evaded many of the recommendations biologists and conservationists have put forward: a population of at least 750 individuals, spread across at least three distinct yet connected populations, and frequent genetic exchange. These goals were instead significantly reduced in the agency’s final plan, and recovery has been elusive. Now advocates are wondering what can be done to fully restore wolf populations in the Southwest while working within the agency’s narrow view of recovery.

“The science is clear,” said Greta Anderson, a deputy director at Western Watersheds Project who tracks Mexican wolf issues. “What Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to be doing is clear. Why they aren’t doing it is a mystery.”

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Authorities investigate the killing of a captive-born Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico

The Arizona Republic (Original) Posted October 19, 2022 by Jake Frederico

A Mexican gray wolf that conservation advocates say was genetically significant to the species' recovery in the wild has been found dead in New Mexico.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the death of the captive-bred and released Mexican gray wolf known as No.1693. The wolf was discovered on Oct. 8. Fish and Wildlife officials have not released details on his killing because it is still under investigation by law enforcement.

The death came just days after the Fish and Wildlife agency announced a revision to the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan with proposed actions to reduce human-caused wolf mortality.

Mexican wolf No. 1693 was released into the wild in 2018 when he was just 15 days old. He was cross-fostered into a wild wolf den in an effort to increase the genetic diversity of the wild population of wolves, a step biologists say is critical to the survival of the species.

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Wolf known for genetic value found dead in New Mexico

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted October 19, 2022 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Environmentalists are pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do more to protect Mexican gray wolves after one of the endangered predators was found dead in southwestern New Mexico.

The Western Watersheds Project is among the groups that have been critical of the agency's management of wolves in New Mexico and Arizona, saying illegal killings continue to hamper the population. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service says there have been fewer wolves found dead this year than in previous years.

The agency also pointed to a revised recovery plan for the wolf that was released in early October. The agency was under a court order to revamp the plan to address the threat of human-caused mortality as one of the ways to increase survivability for wolves in the wild.

Federal officials said they could not provide any details about the circumstances of the latest death since it was an ongoing investigation. It's rare that such investigations are ever closed.

Environmentalists described the male wolf recently found dead near Winston as one of the most genetically-valuable Mexican wolves in the wild. It had been released in 2018 after being born in captivity and then cross-fostered into a wild wolf den as part of an effort to increase genetic diversity.

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Press Release: Wildlife Advocates Challenge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Over Rule that Fails Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

For immediate release: October 3, 2022

Media Contacts:
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520) 623-1878; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chris Smith, WildEarth Guardians (505) 395-6177; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emily Renn, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project (928) 202-1325; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sally Paez, New Mexico Wild (505) 350-0664; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Michael Dax, Wildlands Network (518-598-3442); This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kelly Nokes, Western Environmental Law Center (575) 613-8051; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wildlife Advocates Challenge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Over Rule that Fails Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

TUCSON, AZ (October 3, 2022)– Today, wildlife advocates filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for its failure to adopt an adequate management rule for recovering the critically endangered population of Mexican gray wolves as required by the Endangered Species Act. The current management rule falls considerably short of statutory requirements by failing to promote crucial genetic diversity, by leaving wolves vulnerable to human-caused mortality and removal from the wild, and by preventing wolves from occupying suitable habitat north of Interstate 40.

According to the lawsuit, the USFWS rule in question arbitrarily determined that the U.S. population – only about 200 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild – is “not essential” to the species’ long-term survival. It also downplayed the genetic risks the wolves face. Experts confirm that the recovery of the Mexican gray wolf is still possible within the next several decades if USFWS moves quickly to alleviate threats and acts swiftly to improve the genetic diversity of the population.

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The not so big and definitely not bad wolf

Santa Fe New Mexican (Original) Posted August 6, 2022 by Arden Kucate

Fables and stories that we were brought up with and now tell our children often have a common villain, the wolf. When you think of a wolf, what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s the three little pigs running away in terror, the fate of poor Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother or the boy who cried wolf. In all these depictions, we are faced with a common theme: Wolves are big, scary and bad.

Many of us grew up around ranching and farming and have experienced the villainization of this canine in a totally different way. But if we look beyond our myopic, Anglo-centric culture, we can learn a lot about this animal that deserves our respect and protection.

In some Pueblo cultures, such as that of the Zuni people, the wolf plays an important role as a directional guardian. The wolf teaches about the importance of the pack, which can translate to strong family connections. Even the Aztecs had the highest reverence for the wolf, depicted as a deity, Xolotl, which was the god of fire and lightning.

Being that the Zuni people and Aztecs both lived within the historic range of the Mexican gray wolf (also referred to as the lobo), it is possible that our cultures were in fact seeing our now-endangered lobo. An animal that as of 2021 had approximately 200 living in the wild, these lobos are prominently located in the headwaters of the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

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