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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launches closed door series of Mexican gray wolf recovery workshops


December 14, 2015

Contact: Catalina Tresky: ctresky@defenders.org; (202) 772-0253


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launches closed door series of Mexican gray wolf recovery workshops


ORACLE, Ariz. – This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding the first of a series of closed door Mexican gray wolf recovery planning workshops with state officials from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife’s Senior Southwest Representative, issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new series of workshops, to which only state agency representatives from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and a handful of scientists are invited, is counter-productive to Mexican gray wolf recovery. The most recent team of scientists on the Service’s recovery team have already provided the federal agency with draft Mexican gray wolf recovery criteria and draft plans, based on the best available science.

“In light of these recommendations, the new series of workshops is perplexing and raises the question: Why start over? Does the Service have a credible basis for disagreeing with the science provided by the recovery team or with what needs to be done to save the lobo? Or are they simply responding to state pressure to come up with a different plan that requires fewer wolves in fewer places? It’s easy to be suspicious of closed door meetings when last minute deals with the states in 2014 watered down wolf management rules after the public process was over. The best available science produced by the recovery team already tells us what we need for lobo recovery: increased genetic diversity of the current population; at least two new core populations in suitable habitat with movement among populations; and sustainable numbers of wolves overall.

“One of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s most important legal responsibilities is to ensure the recovery of endangered species like the Mexican gray wolf. Recently, they stood up to New Mexico’s attempt to ban new wolf releases. In this new series of meetings with the states that are hostile to Mexican gray wolf recovery, the Service will need to demonstrate that sort of resolve again.

“Time is not on the lobos’ side; state and federal agencies need to stop making backroom deals and instead concentrate on the best available science to recover the Mexican gray wolf.”



Each state has at some time actively worked against lobo recovery. Arizona Game and Fish asked Congress to remove all federal protections for Mexican gray wolves when there were only 50 wild lobos in the entire world and now forbids all releases of adult wolves in the state. Colorado is currently considering a ban on wolf reintroduction, with the Parks and Wildlife Commission expected to vote in January. New Mexico’s game commission recently tried to block all lobo releases. Utah has spent public funds lobbying to remove wolves from the federal list of endangered species, and has not been shy in voicing its disdain for hosting any wolf populations. Polling from


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