Red wolf (captive), © USFWS

Wildlife Weekly Wrap-Up

Your weekly roundup of wildlife news from across the country

Standing up for the red wolf: Conservation advocates and Democrats in the House Natural Resources Committee implored Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to update the red wolf recovery plan, which has remained stagnant for over 20 years, and ensure that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not turn its back on this critically endangered species. Fewer than 45 red wolves remain in the wild and their time is running out. Defenders of Wildlife recently won a preliminary injunction that prevents any more red wolves from being removed from the wild, but the fight is far from over for South’s native wolf.

ESA protection could be on the horizon for rare whales: The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale for endangered species status under the Endangered Species Act this week. Just one unique and isolated Bryde’s whale population makes its home in a small area of the Gulf of Mexico, just off the Florida Panhandle. Today this small population is in danger of extinction as it faces the impacts of years of oil and gas-caused pollution in the Gulf as well as the threats of further oil and gas exploration and development. With fewer than 50 surviving whales, this tiny population simply cannot withstand further threats from offshore seismic exploration, oil extraction, and frequent oil spills as well as from shipping traffic noise pollution and ship strikes. Just over a year ago, Defenders of Wildlife advocated for listing this whale-it’s great to see NMFS take action!

California releases new conservation plan: There used to be a time when the return of gray wolves in California seemed nearly improbable. Now, five years after OR-7 journeyed here from northeastern Oregon, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a final state conservation plan that will guide the management of the wolves into the future. This plan is a roadmap for the future of wolves in California, a major milestone for wolf recovery in the West and quite possibly the best state wolf management plan yet. But there is still more the state can do to ensure wolves’ safe passage across the landscape. We look forward to working with CDFW and all of our partners to implement this plan and to provide proactive tools and coexistence strategies to minimize conflicts and share the landscape peacefully with wolves.

New jaguar spotted in the U.S. On Wednesday, Arizona Fish and Game Commission announced that a second wild jaguar may have been spotted in a southern Arizona mountain range. Until now, El Jefe (“The Boss” in Spanish) was believed to be the only jaguar in the U.S. although he hasn’t been seen in months. It’s so exciting that in the last 30 years or so, five or six male jaguars have shown up in the U.S. and are starting to re-establish themselves in their historical range. In Teddy Roosevelt’s day jaguars roamed across most of Arizona to the rim of the Grand Canyon, into southwestern New Mexico’s Gila wilderness and over the Río Grande into the Big Bend of Texas. Over the past two centuries, jaguars have been eliminated from more than half of their historic range, which spans the U.S. Southwest and Central and South America. We’re expecting to see a draft jaguar recovery plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month, and we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s published. Watch this space!

Drivers slow down for sea otters! You may recall that over the summer a vehicle tragically struck and killed a beloved local sea otter, Mr. Enchilada on Moss Landing Road in Monterey, California. We’re happy to report that since Mr. Enchilada’s untimely passing, Defenders has been working diligently to protect otters from being hit by cars on that on that road. Just last Tuesday, Monterey County installed speed humps on Moss Landing Road to slow down vehicle traffic in the area. Earlier in the year, the county installed sea otter crossing signs with a lowered speed limit in key locations along the road. But vehicles continued to speed, despite the signs. With the speed humps, vehicles are now forced to slow down for sea otters.