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by Defenders Wildlife category: Environment
Mexican gray wolves – also called lobos – are the most endangered wolves on the planet. Not so long ago, these cousins of the better-known gray wolf once roamed the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico by the thousands. But as humans spread across a growing portion of their native range, these wolves were killed in droves. By the mid-1970s, they were completely wiped out.
In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (led by Jamie Rappaport Clark, now president of Defenders of Wildlife) began releasing captive-bred Mexican gray wolves back into the Arizona wild. Since that day, the wolves have formed packs and had puppies -- doing their best to inch toward recovery. But humans haven’t held up their end of the deal.
Instead of supporting stable packs that are able to reproduce, the USFWS captures and moves wolves around if they get into trouble, or if they cross the invisible boundaries of their small recovery area in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. For a while, many who were found or even suspected of attacking livestock were sent back to captivity or killed. And although the entire population of wolves faces a genetic crisis and desperately needs more wolves to be released, it has been nearly five years since the USFWS has released a single wolf into the wild and allowed it to remain there.
Today there are only 75 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, and the survival of the entire species rests on the success of just three breeding pairs. Without more wolves and a concrete plan to continue their recovery, Mexican gray wolves will eventually become extinct. Because we want to move these wolves back from the edge of extinction and secure a future for them, we are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do three things:
These ideas are not new. The Service has been talking about these urgent steps for years, but has not developed the political will to move ahead.
March 29th marks the 15-year anniversary of Mexican gray wolves’ reintroduction to the wild – what should have been their second chance at survival. Join us on that day to get the message out there: it’s time to get serious about Mexican wolf recovery – before it’s too late.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.