Our attorneys are waiting for us to raise funds to get them in court for Phoenix the Mexican Gray female that USFWS should have relocated to a breeding program instead of killing! Especially after the news led people to believe the Tribe requested it, when in fact we found out that they did not! Protect The Wolves™ spoke with USFWS Wolf program manager on 9/25/2017. Asked her had a current NEPA been done prior to issuing slaughter order for “Phoenix”. Her response was they are running on their initial NEPA from 2012, 13 or 2014. Which after consulting with a retired EPA retired Supervisor, they have informed us that this is not proper protocol, nor is it legal. Had a proper NEPA been done, in order to add strength to the breeding program, USFWS could have captured “Phoenix” and sent her to a captive Breeding Program. Investigating all options under NEPA is, in fact, Federal requirement. Protect The Wolves™ spoke with the White Mountain Apache Game and Fish Department. as well as the White Mountain Apache Tribe. They had not asked for “Phoenix” to be slaughtered!
(EnviroNews Colorado) — After decades of deliberation the final revision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan (the Plan) was released at the end of November, but former USFWS officials tell EnviroNews it strays far from scientists’ minimum recommendations for recovery of the gray wolf subspecies.
Meanwhile, a series of documents reveal lawmakers and agencies in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona — the four states central to recovery efforts — have been deliberately hamstringing wolf revival efforts for years.
David Parsons, former Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the USFWS from 1990 to 1999, told EnviroNews Colorado that instead of working to expand and stabilize wolf populations, the agency watered down the Plan and “essentially turned its mission over to the states” of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona — states that have repeatedly opposed many aspects of wolf recovery.
The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. “el lobo,” was hunted to near-extinction during the late 1800’s and 1900’s. In 1976, it gained protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and by 1982 the USFWS launched the original Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to keep the keystone predator from being wiped off the face of the earth.
The agency’s captive breeding program released three lineages of Mexican wolves into the wild in the U.S. starting in 1998, with Mexico releasing wolves in 2011. Today, 113 of these creatures inhabit central and southern Arizona and New Mexico while 31 wolves live in the northern Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua and Sonora in Mexico.
Despite this modest rebound in numbers, poor genetic variability and limited high-quality habitat free from human encroachment means the future of the Mexican wolf remains bleak.
In 2014, Parsons joined a coalition of conservation groups in a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona against the USFWS for delaying completion of the Plan. In 2016, a court settlement required the agency to finish the plan by November 2017.
To achieve full recovery, the final Plan recommends the release of more captive-bred specimens in an effort to establish two “genetically diverse Mexican wolf populations distributed across ecologically and geographically diverse areas in the subspecies’ range in the United States and Mexico.” The estimated $178 million cost of recovery is to be borne by federal and state governments and NGOs.
The Plan’s ultimate goal is to increase Mexican wolf populations in the U.S. to 320 wolves and 200 in Mexico over the next 25 to 35 years, at which point the USFWS would remove the subspecies from the Endangered Species List.
In late 2011, the USFWS convened the Science and Planning Subgroup of the Recovery Team (the Subgroup) — staffed with independent scientists — which recommended a minimum of 750 wolves in the U.S. and 100 in Mexico, with three separate populations of 200 to 300 wolves, before delisting.
Parsons said that faced with these numbers, ranchers “just went ballistic.” Though stakeholders were sworn to secrecy, the Subgroup’s internal working draft was leaked and pro-ranching and hunting voices, including U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), pushed back hard against the Plan.
“They just blew the thing up in the media,” said Parsons. “Fish and Wildlife Service, true to fashion reacted by just quitting — they canceled the next meeting of [the Subgroup]… and never held another one.”
In November 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region’s Biological Report for the Mexican Wolf determined that wolf numbers wouldn’t be based on science alone, but also what is “socially acceptable in light of the expected ongoing issues around livestock depredation and other forms of wolf-human conflict.”
“They essentially asked the states how many wolves they could tolerate,” Parsons said. “They called it a social tolerance limit based on their perception of social tolerance and not backed by any science whatsoever.”
Parsons also pointed out that, aside from the special interests associated with ranching and hunting, polls have shown the vast majority of the public in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado are in support of Mexican wolf reintroduction and recovery.
Another bone of contention within the Plan is the way it limits the Mexican wolf’s range to south of Interstate 40, which runs east to west across northern New Mexico and Arizona.
The Science and Planning Subgroup recommended including sections of eastern Arizona and New Mexico, the Grand Canyon region of northern Arizona and southern Utah, and the Southern Rockies area of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado as “three major core areas of suitable habitat… capable of supporting Mexican wolf populations of sufficient size to contribute to recovery.”
A 2015 study published in Biological Conservation concluded that “most of the [Mexican wolf’s] historic range in Mexico is currently unsuitable due to human activity” with a high probability of wolves in those regions being killed by people.
However, due to “geopolitical reasons,” the USFWS chose to leave out the Grand Canyon and Southern Rockies regions in the Plan, according to notes from an April 2016 Mexican Wolf Recovery Planning Workshop in Mexico City, Mexico.