Reckless Plan Could Unravel Recovery of Mexican Gray Wolves

Yellowstone National Park has become a symbol of the power of wolves to fundamentally alter the ecology of the land and bring nature back into balance. Since the reintroduction of gray wolves into the park over 20 years ago, the park has transformed and their presence has brought new life in streams and rivers.

Through a “cascade effect,” the presence of wolves increase the diversity of life and function throughout entire ecosystems, all the way down to water quality. In Yellowstone, this has translated into less browsing from elk which has allowed for the regeneration of streambank vegetation like grasses, and willow, aspen and cottonwood trees, and the creation of more habitat for native birds, fish, beavers and other species.  It has even lead to the slowing and cooling of waterways and the improvement of water quality.

Scientists suggest that the landscape of the Southwest, which is ecologically incomplete without wolves, could see a similar rebirth from an increased presence of Mexican gray wolves. The already stunning vistas of the American Southwest would reap benefits to biodiversity and ecological health from a strong commitment to restoring wolves to their historic lands, but none of this will be possible if the new proposed recovery plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) moves forward unchanged. 

Act now! The FWS is accepting public comments on its draft recovery plan until August 29. Make your voice heard for lobos in the Southwest!

Long-Awaited Recovery Plan Falls Short

It’s been 35 years since Mexican gray wolves had anything resembling a recovery plan. Since 1982, the FWS has unsuccessfully convened three recovery teams to develop a legitimate recovery plan with no success. However, a court settlement between the FWS and several conservation groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, requires the agency to produce a final recovery plan by November 2017.

On June 29, the FWS released its proposed recovery plan that would take the Mexican gray wolf off the endangered species list once the population reaches 320 animals in southern New Mexico and Arizona, and 170 in Mexico and the threats to the species have been removed. These goals are contradicted by independent wolf experts and the best available science, which show that 320 is nowhere near the number of wolves needed for recovery.

On top of this, the plan does not require that these two populations be connected and wolf biologists agree that securing a future for Mexican gray wolves requires a minimum of three interconnected populations with occasional inter-breeding. These would include two new populations centered in the Grand Canyon and adjoining areas in southern Utah and the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. However, the plan arbitrarily draws boundaries for wolf recovery areas that would prevent Mexican gray wolves from accessing these essential habitats.

The plan also turns decision making authority for wolf releases over to the states, thus abandoning its federal oversight responsibility for this aspect of wolf recovery. These states have a long track record of hostility toward lobo recovery.

Despite the science and the input of numerous wolf biologists, the FWS has chosen to proceed without addressing these major disparities.

Keeping up the Fight for Lobos

In July, Defenders of Wildlife staff, members and supporters showed up in large numbers at public meetings in Arizona and New Mexico to voice our concerns over the FWS’s draft recovery plan. Before the public meetings, hosted by the FWS in Flagstaff, Truth or Consequences, and Albuquerque, wolf supporters held rallies and made their voices heard loud and clear. Wolf advocates made a strong showing, often well outnumbering those opposed to wolf recovery at the meetings.

Seeing the energetic turnout at the rallies and public hearings was a great reminder of how much people of the Southwest care about the recovery of Mexican gray wolves and long for our very own “Yellowstone moment.”

If we raise our voices for wildlife, we can see Mexican gray wolves thriving in the Southwest again and the landscape and ecology thriving because of them.


Raise Your Voice!

Speak up now to save Mexican gray wolves before it’s too late! Tell the FWS to revise its reckless recovery plan.

Stand Up for Lobos »

7 Responses to “Reckless Plan Could Unravel Recovery of Mexican Gray Wolves”

  1. Dabney Mason

    Wolves are an integral part of our Wildlife Heritage. Stop playing around and help wolves remain strong and living in their natural range

  2. Patrice Weidner

    Science has proven that wolves are essential to a balanced, healthy ecosystem that supports our human lives!

    They are a national wildlife treasure that belongs to the people. A majority of the people support conserving wolves not killing them. These lobos are a petite species and very beautiful.

  3. Brad Henry

    These animals must be saved, they are essential to the total environment.

  4. Carol Nahinu

    Yes, Wolves keep balance in their natural habitat, unlike humabs, who dessimate everything…we need a firm plan in place to prevent them from going extinct. Please save the wolves…God put them in our care, on this earth for a reason…PLEASE SAVE THE NEXICAN WOLF

  5. Nikki Nafziger

    Wolves are vital apex predators to the health of the ecosystem. All life on this planet is interconnected ecosystems. It’s imperative that you listen to SCIENCE; which is in complete harmony with the overwhelming majority of Americans: your plan is inadequate and unacceptable!

  6. Denise Gibbs

    Stop playing politics and do what’s right for this species– whatever it takes to help the Mexican Grey Wolf make a full recovery. Follow the science and the wolf experts instead of the misguided and uninformed ranchers.

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