November 19, 2013
November 18, 2013
Public News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The federal government is not doing enough to ensure that the Mexican Gray Wolf does not go extinct, according to attorney Judy Calman with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the Mexican Gray Wolf as a separate endangered subspecies, while simultaneously proposing to remove the Gray Wolf nationally from protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Calman said the proposed recovery plan does not adequately expand the animal’s range in New Mexico and Arizona.
“Wolves don’t carry maps. They don’t know when they’re crossing boundaries. And what they’re going to do is naturally disperse into territory that they can occupy based on prey and terrain and climate,” Calman explained.
Wolves that stray from the recovery area will be captured and returned, she said, adding that the animals need a much greater habitat area to reestablish distinct population groups and avoid genetic inbreeding.
About 75 captive-bred Mexican Gray Wolves live in a recovery area located in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitegraves National Forests in Arizona. Sherry Barrett, FWS Mexican Wolf recovery coordinator, said increasing the range area should help the animals grow in number.
“What our proposals are intended to do is to increase that area within which they can establish more territories, expand their population, which will significantly help us with genetics,” Barrett said.
The recovery area would increase in size by five times – to 31,000 square miles – if the plan is approved.
The FWS is accepting public comment on the Mexican Gray Wolf proposal at a hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque.
The FWS Mexican Gray Wolf recovery plan is available at www.fws.gov.