Mexican Wolves Need Us!
If not us, then who?
The Mexican wolf (lobo) is one of the most endangered canids in the world, with only about 193 in the wild in the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages lobos under a section of the Endangered Species Act known as “10j.” Don’t worry about what that means. Bottomline, it was intended to give the agency flexibility to recover endangered species, but in practice it has more often been used against wolves than to help them. With your help, that is about to change.
Read on for a little more background and what we’re asking for. You’ll find information about how to comment at the bottom of this page. Thank you for taking action!
After years of inaction, the FWS tried to make changes to the 10(j) rule in 2015. However, the changes they proposed would have led to a bleak future for lobos. Conservation organizations immediately sued the FWS for not fulfilling its obligation to bring Mexican gray wolves back to a healthy wild population. The court agreed with the groups.
In April 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Zipps came back with an order for the FWS to redo the process of changing the management rule and this time include honest interpretations of the best available science. (You can read more about the 2015 court ruling here.)
This was a major victory for lobos. And though the wolves have had to wait years for the process to be reinitiated, the time has come for us to begin a new chapter in the story of lobo recovery. We need to make sure that it is done right.
What we want to see in a new rule:
The FWS must designate Mexican gray wolves as essential. Under the 10j rule, FWS can decide if a population of animals is “essential” or “nonessential” to the continued survival of the species in the wild. Amazingly, even though there are so few Mexican wolves in the wild, and their survival hangs by a thread due to human-caused deaths and removals, and genetic inbreeding, the agency persists in calling lobos in the wild “nonessential.” This has to change.
There should not be a cap or maximum number of Mexican wolves allowed in the wild. Additional populations of reintroduced wolves are necessary for the survival of the wild population.
The recent increase of removing and killing wild Mexican gray wolves must end. The following parameters need to be included in the management rule:
Wolves shall not be removed from the wild for their predation on wildlife such as elk or deer.
Authorization for either the government or private individuals to kill wolves is restricted to cases in which they pose a likely threat to human health or safety.
Wolves shall not be removed from the wild for preying on livestock on public lands if the permittee knowingly leaves cattle unattended near wolf packs.
An annual population growth of at least 10% must be documented before any lethal control or removals from the wild for more than six months are even considered.
FWS, Wildlife Services (a federal agency that addresses wildlife conflicts) and their state partners should allocate more resources to help ranchers avoid conflicts with wolves through proven, effective non-lethal methods, such as range riders, fladry and payments for accepting the presence of wolf dens on grazing allotments.
Mexican gray wolves belong in the Colorado plateau and southern Rockies. Wolves shall not be removed from the wild because they roamed beyond any geographic boundary, and in particular wolves shall not be removed from the wild for traveling into or inhabiting regions north of Interstate Highway 40.
Mexican gray wolves belong in Mexico too. Wolves shall not be removed from the wild for preying on livestock south of Interstate Highway 10 in Arizona and New Mexico, in order to facilitate natural connectivity between wolves in the U.S. and in Mexico.
Wolves need freedom from boundaries. Given room to roam, the wolves will establish themselves in suitable areas with adequate game. The FWS must be proactive in support of wolves to establish new packs and populations in additional areas. Capturing and containing wolves is always a risky business that can result in death or trauma to the wolf.
Wolves once lived throughout Arizona and New Mexico and played a critical role in keeping the balance of nature in place. We need to restore this important animal that has been missing for too long.