Tell decision-makers the stalling has to stop!
Almost 15 years after they were first reintroduced to the Southwest, there are still only around 75 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, and only three breeding pairs, making them one of North America's most endangered animals, and the most endangered wolf in the world. More Mexican wolves are desperately needed to strengthen the wild population's genetics and increase their numbers.
It's time for the stalling to stop.
For years, scientists have said that new releases are essential to pull the small, struggling wild population of Mexican wolves back from the brink of extinction. The US Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) own 2010 annual progress report states that "lack of appropriate initial releases and successful translocations from captivity" contributed to "fewer known adult wolves available for pair formation." This acknowledgment was accompanied by a pledge to "replac[e] the individual animals lost through initial releases and translocations" (p. 29).
Nonetheless, since 2006, the USFWS has only released two new wolves into the wild,and their current plan for new releases is inadequate. In fact, the agency just removed from the wild the one new wolf it released in almost five years, simply because he did not pair up with the Bluestem alpha female as the USFWS had hoped.
The agency has not kept their pledge to replace lost wolves, and the wild population now suffers from genetic inbreeding that is causing lower litter sizes and pup survival rates. These magnificent animals cannot afford more delays, inadequate release plans, or arbitrary rules that hinder their recovery.
Dear Director Tuggle,
New releases of Mexican gray wolves are badly needed to bolster the small population that currently remains in the wild. This population is too small to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals and there are many wolves in captivity that are eligible for release. Newly released wolves will not only increase population numbers but will also improve the wild population's genetics.
Please use your authority and responsibility for restoring the Mexican wolf to see that these three things happen:
1. The USFWS should start releasing eligible captive wolves into the wilds where they belong, as quickly as possible. There are Mexican wolves languishing in captive facilities right now that could be released into New Mexico, having lived in the wild previously. The USFWS should expedite the releases of these eligible wolves.
2. The USFWS needs to change the rule that prohibits releasing wolves throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area if they have not previously lived in the wild. Allowing direct releases in New Mexico will give wildlife managers the flexibility to get more wolves on the ground, regardless of unexpected events like 2011's Wallow Fire. It will allow them to choose the best places for releases to succeed. And it will give these important animals a much better chance at recovery.
3. The USFWS should move ahead with many new releases into Arizona and do it the right way. The proposal put out to release only a few more wolves into Arizona in 2013 is inadequate-too few wolves will be released, and under management policies that call for them to be killed or removed over livestock conflicts. This is unacceptable.
Thank you – your actions can make all the difference for these amazing animals.
(Photo courtesy of the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team)