|From Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation-|
In 1976 with only seven individuals remaining, Canis lupus baileyi, the Mexican (MX) wolf, was classified as an endangered species. A captive breeding program was commenced to save the species. This sub-species of wolf is native to parts of Arizona and New Mexico, which made up 10% of its historic range. The other 90% of that former range is in Old Mexico.
A milestone of sorts, and the beginning of an effort to save a species that would, and is costing millions of taxpayer dollars. Here are some maps from the Lobos of the Southwest.
In 1998 the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) established a "nonessential experimental population" of wolves in the Blue Range of eastern AZ under the 10j Rule. That label is extremely important from a management standpoint, for without it, flexibility is lost.
Many cheered; a lot of environmental organizations and urbanites.
And many swore: a lot of ranchers, livestock growers, farmers, and rural folks.
You could find sportsmen and women in both camps to varying degrees.
The AZ Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) manages all wildlife within our state's boundaries, including threatened and endangered species. In the last 20 years, in concert with the FWS, the MX wolf has made a comeback because of their efforts. The most recent census of the wild population showed at least 163 wolves in AZ and NM. Here is some more information from AZGFD on MX wolf management and reintroduction.
In the meantime, there are captive breeding populations spread around the United States (approximately 30 facilities) and in Mexico (at least 10 facilities). The captive wolf population is now up to approximately 400 animals.
There are two options for releases to enhance genetic diversity in the population; adult wolves raised in captivity (naïve to fending for themselves on the landscape), or cross-fostered pups (replacing wild born pups with captive born pups in the den). Since 2014, 52 captive pups have been fostered into wild dens. At least 10 of those fostered pups survived their first year, and three have produced litters of their own. Cross-fostering pups have incrementally expanded the gene pool, while keeping captive raised (naïve) adult wolves off the landscape, along with eliminating the need for them to learn how to be wild and stay away from people.
In 2015, the FWS published a final rule governing the animal's designation and management.
-AZSFWC supported the Recovery Plan and the 10(j) Rule as the only means to manage and control the animal in a sensible and measured manner, tracking with the position of the AZGFD.
-Wolf opponents remained steadfast wanting "no wolves".
-Wolf advocates were and are, just as determined to expand the "recovery" unhindered across "suitable" (any place with food, water and shelter) habitat (not historical habitat) in the Southwest U.S.
In 2018 two lawsuits were filed against the FWS, one for the Recovery Plan, which has not been ruled on yet, and the other over the 2015 10(j) Rule which is the matter at hand. A Federal judge said the 2015 10(j) Rule "failed to further the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf." The FWS has until May of 2021 to respond to the judge's ruling.
On April 15, 2020, in order to comply with the Judge's order, the FWS opened public comment on the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement supplement in conjunction with a proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi).
So what is at stake? (three key issues)
The comment period is open until June 15, 2020
You can provide your input here: