For Immediate Release
Mexican Gray Wolf Lethally Removed from the Wild
SANTA FE (Sept. 15, 2017) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today that for the first time in over a decade, a Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, was lethally removed in Arizona due to conflicts with livestock.
Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“We strongly condemn the killing of this Mexican gray wolf. The lobo is the world’s most endangered subspecies of gray wolf, and there are too few in the wild for any to be removed. News of this wolf’s killing is particularly devastating since it has been over a decade since the last lobo was lethally removed from the wild for conflicts with livestock.
“Defenders of Wildlife works day in and day out with our partners to avoid these kinds of fatal removals through coexistence tools and strategies across the country and here in the Southwest. It is disappointing that no request for additional assistance was made to avoid this loss. We will continue to do our part to avoid any other removal.
“Wolves are part of our natural history, an important part of our landscape and here in the Southwest, an icon in our culture. Wolves need our support and tolerance to ensure their safe passage across the landscape.
“Going forward, we are committed to support local communities in sharing the landscape peacefully with wildlife. We stand ready to assist at any time with coexistence measures from range riders to fladry to ensure wolves in the wild are not killed. We implore those living and working in wolf country to reach out to Defenders of Wildlife and our partners early to implement proven coexistence practices.”
Based on multiple depredation reports throughout 2017 (most recently in August 2017), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office in New Mexico directed the Interagency Field Team to remove a wolf from the Diamond Pack in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Under the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population Regulations Revision, also known as the 10(j) rule, FWS or designated agency may use lethal control among other measures to manage wolves involved in livestock conflicts. Defenders of Wildlife and our partners are currently challenging this rule in court.
Mexican gray wolves, or ‘lobos,’ are the most endangered gray wolf subspecies in the world. The lobos are facing low numbers and a genetic crisis in the wild. Limited genetic diversity in the wild can result in smaller litters and lower pup survival – a recipe for extinction. Releases of captive wolves are critical to increase genetic diversity of the Mexican gray wolves in the wild.
Per the latest count, there are 113 Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. wild. Per the draft recovery plan released July 28, 2017, there are 28 wolves in Mexico. While it is good news that the population count is up, these numbers are still very small compared to what is necessary to recover the subspecies.
To recover the endangered Mexican gray wolves, FWS must:
- complete a legally-sufficient recovery plan with the goal of a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the wild;
- release more wolves into the wild; and
- extend the Mexican gray wolf recovery areas into suitable habitat north of Interstate 40 (I-40).
Scientists conclude that lobos require at least three linked populations in suitable habitat. Habitat capable of supporting two additional populations exists in the Grand Canyon ecoregion and in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. There is an estimated 19 million acres of potential habitat north of I-40 in Utah, Colorado and northern New Mexico. Much of these lands, which were excluded from the draft recovery plan, have low cattle numbers, low road-density and minimal projected human build-out, which translates to fewer opportunities for conflicts than other areas in the West.
Defenders of Wildlife works with ranchers in the Southwest and across the country to prevent and minimize conflicts on the landscape through coexistence tools and strategies, including range riders, fladry and radio-activated guard (RAG) systems.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.