More Endangered Mexican Wolves Are Finally Going to Be Released

In a win for Mexican gray wolves, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has announced more will finally be released into the wilds of New Mexico, raising hope for their future survival.

Mexican gray wolves once roamed vast portions of the southwest and Mexico, but were wiped out by the 1900s. In 1976 they were listed as an endangered species, and bi-national recovery efforts began. But despite starting the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan in 1982, there are still far too few in the wild.

The population was expected to be more than 100 by 2006, but it’s only just recently crossed that number. Today they are still considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

At the last official count, there were only 110, including eight breeding pairs, in New Mexico and Arizona who remain vulnerable to a range of threats from diseases and natural disasters to being killed by humans; more than 50 illegal killings have been documented since reintroduction efforts began in 1998.

A lack of genetic diversity is also a serious issue and their advocates have been calling for more to be released for years. Earlier this month, 43 groups and scientists sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging immediate action be taken before inbreeding further threatens their chances of making a full comeback.

In the letter, they point to the fact that only four captive-bred wolves have been released during the entirety of the Obama Administration and of those, three are dead and one was taken back into captivity.

“As the principal agency responsible for ensuring lobo recovery, U.S. the Fish and Wildlife Service cannot sit idly by while one state’s anti-carnivore rhetoric and political scheming attempts to obstruct reintroduction efforts,” said Kelly Nokes, carnivore campaign lead for WildEarth Guardians. “It is past time that Service takes control and carries out its duty to recover lobos in New Mexico, as the Endangered Species Act demands.”

Despite opposition from officials in New Mexico – or more specifically the state’s Game and Fish Department and Game Commission, which denied the FWS a permit for more releases at the end of September – last week the FWS made the announcement that 10 pups and a breeding pair will be released into New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is exempting the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program from having to listen to the state. Even though releases won’t be until sometime in 2016, the move is being applauded by Mexican wolf advocates.

“It is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s obligation under the law to recover this species, and reintroductions into the wild from the more genetically diverse captive population are an essential part of that recovery process,” the agency said in an internal memo, shared by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

For more info on how to help efforts to restore Mexican wolves to their rightful place in the wild, check out mexicanwolves.org.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

48 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

Why not just round up the psychopathic criminals staffing New Mexico's Game and Fish Department and Game Commission and slam them in a prison. They are obviously criminals that must be dealt with as criminals.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Patricia Harris
John Taylor3 years ago

May these wonderful animals be protected from a bunch of killjoys!!

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago

Thank you

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Hope they survive. Shame people think it's macho to kill something.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

Here it is again...The USFWdis-S is in charge of the recovery of a species when in fact they are the ones facilitating the extinction of the species. Until there are teeth in penalizing the shooters of wolves who readily use the claim "I thought it was a coyote" nothing will improve. It states "it is their obligation" but they have proven that to be false when it comes to wolves..............and any animals for that matter.

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Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege3 years ago

Good news. But the wolves should be protected, too.

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Gayle J.
Gayle, J3 years ago

At least the federal govt. finallly stood up to the wolf haters in the NM Game Commission, but since there are zero consequences for killing endangered animals anymore, I fear they won't be alive very long. The people who love to kill animals for fun are out in full force these days since they have managed to buy off so many politicians to do their bidding. What a very sad country this has become for our wild animal friends.

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jan macek
jan macek3 years ago

I live in NM and this state is the pits when it comes to any wild animal. There is no place safe for these wolves and they will just be killed. God help them because NM will not. Our Wildlife Commission is now going to kill more mt. lions and bears just because they can. If you care for our wildlife, please tell the Gov. that you will not come to NM unless the policies change for the better for our wildlife.

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Shirley S.
Shirley S3 years ago

Poor hounded wolves.

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