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Much More Needed to Ensure Species' Long-Term Survival
Santa Fe, NM — An annual population estimate for the Mexican grey wolf released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found at least 83 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The estimate is an increase of eight wolves from the 2012 count. The survey also found only five breeding pairs and that just 17 wolf pups survived to the end of their first year.
“While it is certainly good news that the Mexican wolf population increased in 2013, the number is still far below the interim objective of 100 wolves the Service was supposed to meet in 2006,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “The Mexican wolf needs full Endangered Species Act protections to ensure its survival and recovery.”
Though critically imperiled, the Mexican wolf is listed as “experimental, non-essential” under the Endangered Species Act, a designation that allows for wolves to be removed from the wild. Also of grave concern, the Service shelved a new draft recovery plan for the Mexican wolf in 2012. The 2012 plan called for expanded recovery areas, among other steps key to recovering the species.
“Until the Service puts science before politics, the Mexican wolf will hover near the brink of extinction,” said Cotton. “The Service needs to get serious about Mexican wolf recovery: finalize the 2012 recovery plan, retire grazing allotments on public lands, and expand the recovery area for these amazing animals, so key to healthy, thriving ecosystems.”
The Mexican wolf is the most critically imperiled mammal in the United States. Impediments to successfully reintroducing a self-sustaining wild Mexican wolf population include continued trapping in their habitat, a severely limited gene pool, and illegal and accidental killings, including by government officials tasked with the species’ recovery.