Local & Regional News

Lawsuits say Mexican gray wolf recovery plan is flawed

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted January 31, 2018 By Susan Montoya Bryan of the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. wildlife managers failed to adopt a recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf that would protect against illegal killings and the consequences of inbreeding, according to lawsuits filed Tuesday by environmentalists.

Two coalitions of environmental groups filed separate complaints in federal court in Arizona, marking the latest challenges in a decades-long battle over efforts to re-establish the predator in its historic range in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

The lawsuits alleges the plan adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set inadequate population goals for the wolves, cut off access to vital habitat in other parts of the West and failed to respond to mounting genetic threats.

"Mexican wolves urgently need more room to roam, protection from killing and more releases of wolves into the wild to improve genetic diversity, but the Mexican wolf recovery plan provides none of these things," said Earthjustice attorney Elizabeth Forsyth, who is representing the groups. "The wolves will face an ongoing threat to their survival unless major changes are made."

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Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Found Dead In Arizona

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted January 17, 2018 by the Associated Press

Federal authorities are investigating the death of a Mexican gray wolf as wildlife managers prepare for an annual survey of the endangered species along the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Officials with the wolf recovery effort announced Tuesday that a female wolf was found dead in December in Arizona. They declined to release more information, saying the case is still under investigation.

For 2017, there were a total of 12 documented wolf deaths and one removal of a wolf from the wild that resulted in its death.

According to the most recent count, there are at least 113 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say a new survey of the population will begin next Monday. The effort will take two weeks.

Flake pens bill to limit Mexican wolves, delist them from federal program

Grand Canyon News (Original) Posted January 16, 2018 by Erin Ford

Annual wolf count begins Jan. 22

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — In a 1982 draft of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, which was the standard until late 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined 100 Mexican wolves should be the benchmark for the species’ survival. Now, 35 years later, the FWS places the number for Mexican wolf survival at 320, based on scientific studies.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has long opposed placing protections on the animal under the federal Endangered Species Act, recently introduced legislation that would strip the Mexican wolf of federal protections once the wild population reaches the original benchmark of 100 animals in New Mexico and Arizona. At last count, there were 113 wolves in that range.

Flake has been critical of the recovery plan, including the update completed in November that raised the count to 320 animals, calling it a “regulatory nightmare for ranchers.” Flake has supported leaving the wolves’ recovery to state agencies, a move supported by some Arizona ranchers.

Patrick Bray, executive vice president of the American Cattle Grower’s Association, had previously said the federal government didn’t go far enough in compensating ranchers for livestock losses, and questioned why more wolves were needed, adding that it would increase the hassle for ranchers and business owners. When the recovery plan was updated in November 2017, Bray said his organization refused to support it.

“If 100 wolves was good enough in 1982, it should be good enough in 2018,” he said.

Environmentalists criticized the move, however, saying a wild population of 100 animals would virtually guarantee Mexican wolves’ extinction. Organizations including Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, among others, have said the new goal of 320 animals is still too low.

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US senator proposes delisting Mexican gray wolf

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted January 7, 2018 By Susan Montoya Bryan of the Associated Press

A wolf that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico would be removed from the list of federally protected species under legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

The Arizona Republican introduced the measure last week. He's a critic of the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan, calling it a regulatory nightmare for ranchers and rural communities.

The bill calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if a population of fewer than 100 wolves has been established along the Arizona-New Mexico border. If so, the predator would be considered recovered and removed from the endangered list.

Environmentalists say it's an attempt to sidestep the Endangered Species Act.

According to the most recent survey, an estimated 113 wolves roam parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

Mexican Gray Wolf Listed Among 10 Species Most at Risk of Extinction

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted December 15, 2017 by Ryan Heinsius

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month released its long-awaited recovery plan for endangered Mexican gray wolves. Now a national wildlife advocacy group has listed the animals as one of the most threatened in the U.S. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Endangered Species Coalition says the wolves are among 10 animals most at risk of extinction. The group, in its annual report, accuses federal wildlife officials of putting politics ahead of science by limiting the animal’s range to areas in Arizona and New Mexico.

In addition, the Coalition says the Fish and Wildlife plan sets a population goal that’s less than half of what’s needed for genetic diversity.

The agency, however, says the plan will put the species on track for recovery, and uses the best-available science while minimizing effects on local communities and livestock.

There were at least 113 wild Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest at last count, along with more than two dozen in Mexico.

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