Jeff Flake wants to remove federal protections for Mexican gray wolves

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Flake is a fitting name. We need to get these types of officials into court soon while we still have wolves left.

Sen. Jeff Flake is seeking to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections from the Mexican gray wolves roaming Arizona and New Mexico.

Flake, R-Ariz., last week introduced a bill to lift the animals’ endangered status if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines there are at least 100 wolves in the Blue Range recovery area overlapping the two states’ boundary.

At last count a year ago there were 113.

Shaking off federal protections would place wolves solely under state management. It’s an idea that Arizona ranchers have advocated to limit wolf kills of animals in livestock herds and to end federal regulation complications.

“This is the clear way to get out of the (federal) program and yet still have wolves on the ground,” said Patrick Bray, executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association.

Wolf advocates say such a low population would doom the wolves to extinction, as they already suffer in-breeding and illegal killings.

The 100-wolf threshold grew out of a 1982 recovery plan that the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote when there were no Mexican gray wolves living in the wild. The wolves, a smaller subspecies of the gray wolves roaming Yellowstone National Park and other northern regions, had disappeared from the Southwest and biologists had gathered the last handful from Mexico to start a captive breeding program.

Reintroduction began in 1998, when former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt was U.S. Interior secretary.

Last November the federal agency updated its recovery goal to 320 wolves in the U.S. At that time Flake called the plan “another federal regulatory nightmare” for ranchers.

Bray commended the senator for trying to rein in the program before the predator’s numbers explode.

“If (100 wolves) was good enough in 1982, it should be good enough in 2018,” Bray said.

SEE ALSO: Gray wolf recovery plan met with criticism

Wolf advocates have long argued that the old 100-wolf goal was just a first benchmark to keep reintroduction expectations realistic, and had no scientific basis. Since then the science — including the biological basis for last year’s plan update — has indicated that 100 wolves cannot be self-sustaining, said Bryan Bird, Southwest program manager for Defenders of Wildlife.

Conservationists thought the new 320-wolf goal too low, he said, but the states supported it. Now, he argued, Flake wants to undo the agency’s experts and their compromises with the states.

“It’s politics instead of science,” Bird said. If protections are removed now, “The species would be virtually guaranteed to go extinct in the wild.”



Source: Jeff Flake wants to remove federal protections for Mexican gray wolves

Feds Release Endangered Wolf Pups in New Mexico but theres a price a wild pup has to pay

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Why would the New Mexico State Fish and Game place a pup removal condition on the Feds? As a condition, for each pup released into the den, one pup had to be removed and placed in captivity… what sense does that make….?????

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials have successfully placed two captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups into a wild den with a foster family.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the release Friday, a day after it was made public that the state Game and Fish Department cleared the way for a cross-fostering project aimed at boosting genetic diversity among wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

The state this week issued a permit allowing for the placement of the pups.

As a condition, for each pup released into the den, one pup had to be removed and placed in captivity….. WTF?????????

New Mexico has their heads somewhere it shouldnt be………..

New Mexico officials were adamant that the number of wolves in the wild remain unchanged as a result of the temporary permit. The state and Fish and Wildlife Service are still locked in a court battle over wolf releases.

“We will continue to fight attempted federal overreach into state affairs as they relate to the Endangered Species Act in New Mexico,” Lance Cherry, a spokesman for the state agency, said Friday.

New Mexico has complained about the way the wolf reintroduction program is managed, and in 2015 it refused to issue a permit to Fish and Wildlife to release more of the predators. Federal officials decided to release them anyway, citing an urgent need to expand the wild population to prevent inbreeding. A court fight ensued.

The 30-day permit for the pups’ release followed a recent decision by a federal court to lift a temporary restraining order that had stopped Fish and Wildlife from releasing more of the animals.

New Mexico and other states have argued that the Endangered Species Act requires the federal agency to cooperate with them on how species are reintroduced within their borders.

 As for the wolves, New Mexico contends there’s no way to determine whether proposed releases would conflict with the state’s own wildlife management because federal officials have yet to develop a comprehensive recovery plan for the wolves. The federal agency is under a court order to release a draft plan later this year.

The captive-born wolf pups were placed Wednesday with the litter belonging to the San Mateo pack, which roams part of the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

Federal officials said Friday they were pleased the state cleared the way for the cross-fostering effort, citing its importance to the species’ genetic pool.

Only about 110 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild. The federal government added them to the endangered species list in 1976, and Fish and Wildlife began reintroducing them to parts of their original range in New Mexico and Arizona in 1998.


Source: Feds Release Endangered Wolf Pups in New Mexico | New Mexico News | US News

Cautious optimism as population of reintroduced wolves grows

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Members of the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team completed the annual year­end population survey, documenting a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016.  The tally compares with a minimum of 97 wild wolves in 2015.

“We are encouraged by these numbers, but these 2016 results demonstrate we are still not out of the woods with this experimental population and its anticipated contribution to Mexican wolf recovery,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said Monday. “Our goal is to achieve an average annual growth rate of 10 percent in the Mexican wolf population. Although there was a one-year population decline in 2015, due in part to a high level of mortality and a lower pup survival rate, there are now more Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The Service and our partners remain focused and committed to making this experimental population genetically healthy and robust so that it can contribute to recovery of the Mexican wolf in the future. We all understand the challenges we face as we try to increase the wild population of this endangered species.”

In the spring of 2016, the IFT successfully fostered six genetically diverse pups from the captive breeding program into similarly aged litters of established packs in the wild. Cross-fostering was first implemented in 2014 when a male and female pup were placed in the Dark Canyon pack’s den in New Mexico. Last summer, the IFT observed that cross-fostered male disperse from his pack and is traveling with a female wolf. The IFT also confirmed the cross-fostered female is now the breeding female in the Leopold pack.

“The population is showing an increase in wild-born wolves and we expect the growth rates observed this year to continue into the future,” Jim deVos, Assistant Director of Wildlife Management for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. “The success of this program is due to our on-the-ground partnerships. We have every reason to believe that our efforts at reintroduction will continue to be successful.”

The results of the survey reflect the end­of­year minimum experimental population for 2016. Results come from population data collected by the IFT on the ground from November through December of 2016, as well as from an aerial survey conducted in January and February 2017. This number is considered a minimum number of Mexican wolves known to exist in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico; other Mexican wolves may be present.

The aerial survey was conducted by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter. Biologists used radio­ telemetry and actual sightings of wolves to help determine the count.

The results from the aerial survey, coupled with the ground survey conducted by the IFT, confirmed:

  • There are a total of 21 packs, with a minimum of 50 wolves in New Mexico and 63 wolves in Arizona.
  • The 2016 minimum population count includes 50 wild­born pups that survived through the end of the year compared to 23 pups surviving in 2015.
  • Six wolf pups were cross-fostered in 2016. Three are known to be alive, one of which is radio collared.

There were 13 documented Mexican wolf mortalities in 2016.  Two mortalities occurred during last year’s count and 11 are under investigation by the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in an effort to determine cause of death.  If available, more information will be provided in the 2016 annual report.

The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Once common throughout portions of the southwestern United States and Mexico, it was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s. In 1977, the Service initiated efforts to conserve the species by developing a bi-national captive breeding program with seven Mexican wolves. In 1998, Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in Arizona and New Mexico within the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area.

The Mexican wolf recovery program is a partnership between the Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, and several participating counties.

For more information on the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program, visit Http://

Source: Cautious optimism as population of reintroduced wolves grows

14 Mexican wolves confirmed dead in 2016

Mexican Gray Wolves

ALBUQUERQUE — More than a dozen endangered Mexican gray wolves were killed in 2016, including two at the hands of wildlife officials who were capturing and collaring the animals as part of an annual survey of the struggling population.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed this week that 14 wolf deaths were documented last year, marking the most in any single year since the federal government began reintroducing the predators in New Mexico and Arizona in 1998.

Many of the cases remain under investigation. But federal officials have acknowledged that illegal killings have been a problem over the years and will likely continue as the wolf population grows and the animals disperse into other areas of the Southwest.

Part of the mission of the multi-agency team that oversees recovery will be to keep track of the wolves this year and notify the public as they move into previously uninhabited areas, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman John Bradley said.

The federal agency, which coordinates with other federal departments, state game officials in Arizona and the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona, also says it’s on track to release an updated recovery plan for the species later this year.

Accused in federal court of dragging its feet for decades, the Fish and Wildlife Service is now under a court order to get it done this year. But officials say they have made no decisions about whether the plan will involve wolf releases in neighboring Colorado or Utah.

New Mexico already is entangled in a legal fight over the release of wolves within its boundaries. The state has cited concerns about the direction of the reintroduction program and the failure of the federal agency to revamp the outdated recovery plan.

Environmentalists have been pushing for years for the release of more captive-bred wolves to bolster the population and address genetic issues.

Ranchers throughout the region have been vocal opponents, saying wolves are threatening their livelihood through the killing of livestock and have compromised public safety in rural communities.

A review of the program’s monthly reports shows investigators in 2016 confirmed more than two dozen livestock kills by wolves in western New Mexico and eastern Arizona. There were also a few nuisance reports filed last year.

There are about 100 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona, and environmentalists say that’s not enough to ensure the species’ survival.

While many of last year’s cases are still under investigation, Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity called the illegal shooting of wolves an “unacceptable ongoing loss to the population.”

He also said the greatest threat continues to be the freeze on wolf releases and voiced concerns about any potential federal legislation that would call for limiting or removing protections for the wolves.

Source: 14 Mexican wolves confirmed dead in 2016

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