Update on the Fate of The Mexican Grey Wolf

Humans have once again expressed their resolution that Grey Wolves may have no chance to truly thrive here in the American Southwest.  On November 28, the US Wildlife Agency issues its report on the Grey Wolf, Ironically called ” The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.  The report was, as its name suggests, a plan to bring back the Mexican Wolf from extinction. Currently, there exist around 100 in the Wild and the general scientific view was to save the species, the wolf had to have access to vital habitat and create greater genetic diversity.

“The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon area.” (Earthjustice)

The objectives of the plan are to

  1. Increase the size of two Mexican wolf populations;
  2. Improve gene diversity and maintain the health of Mexican wolves;
  3. Ensure adequate habitat availability to support viable Mexican wolf populations;
  4. Maintain the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) captive breeding program to improve the status of wild populations;
  1. Promote Mexican wolf conservation through education and outreach programs; and
  2. Ensure recovery success.

The plan so far has been based on the original 1982 plan that established the protocol to raise the Mexican Wolf population. In 1998, seven wolves were released into the wild and with the addition of 14 additionally released wolves, the current population is around 120. A tremendous success considering that they were zero in 1998 but not enough to guarantee the survival of the species. The plan was to address the challenges that continue to face the wolf, one of which is ” Human-caused mortality.” A long way of saying “human assassination” of the wolf.

The reaction to the plan by leading conservationist view the delayed plan has a slap in the face to the Wolves but also to the science that supports an alternative plan.   Comments like, “Lobos waited decades for a plan to save them, only to be given one that does not guarantee recovery,” said Bryan Bird, Southwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. Who accuses the US Fish and Wildlife of letting politics rule the report. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had the opportunity to build a plan on a foundation of science and conservation, but instead decided to let politics rule.”

The problem with the plan is that it reduces the number of wolves needed to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act. said David Parsons, former Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “Using the states’ arbitrary upper limit as a population cap in the population viability model and forcing additional recovery needs to Mexico, the plan will guarantee that from now to eternity no more than a running average of 325 Mexican wolves will ever be allowed to exist in the entire U.S. Southwest. This plan is a disgraceful sham.”

“It’s a ‘recovery plan’ in name only. Without additional habitat and greater genetic diversity, the wolves will continue to teeter on the brink of extinction. The plan provides none of these essential needs,” said Heidi McIntosh, an attorney with the nonprofit environmental legal organization, Earthjustice, which sued the federal government on behalf of conservation organizations.

The Trump administration refused to listen to the tens of thousands of people who asked them to fix their awful draft plan before finalizing it. Among the people who weighed in asking for stronger protections for the wolves were concerned citizens, business owners, and scientists.