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For Immediate Release, February 7, 2008

Contact: Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017

Mexican Gray Wolf Population in Critical Decline:
52 Wolves and Just Three Breeding Pairs Remain in the
Wild Due to Federal Predator Control

SILVER CITY, N.M.— After having removed 22 wolves from the wild during 2007 (two of which were returned to the wild), primarily through trapping and shooting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the results of its annual Mexican wolf census and population extrapolation reveal only 52 wolves in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona. A year ago there were 59 wolves.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also announced that just four breeding pairs remain in the wild, including only one in New Mexico. Yet even the figure of four breeding pairs is too high: Using the Federal Register definition of a breeding pair, “an adult male and an adult female wolf that have produced at least two pups during the previous breeding season that survived until December 31 of the year of their birth,” there were only three breeding pairs in 2007. That is because the Rim Pack does not qualify as a breeding pair for 2007 since the pups’ father was found dead in April 2007. (Their two pups both died in January 2008, which would not affect their parents’ definition as a 2007 breeding pair.)

A year ago there were six breeding pairs.

The 1998 reintroduction to the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, consisting of the Gila and Apache national forests in, respectively, New Mexico and Arizona, was projected to achieve 102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs by December 31, 2006 – as a first step in as-yet undefined recovery goals.

“The Bush administration has relentlessly persecuted the Mexican gray wolf,” according to Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration promoted former Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director H. Dale Hall to national director of the agency in 2005 after Hall managed to ramp up the killing of wolves.”

Robinson added: “Dale Hall in Washington, D.C. is backed up in his anti-wolf efforts by congressman Pearce.”

Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-NM) organized closed-door meetings between anti-wolf cattle operators who lease public lands and high-level Fish and Wildlife Service officials in February 2005, and sponsored (unsuccessful) legislation to shut down funding for the reintroduction program.

Over three years ago Hall suspended meetings of the recovery team that was working on creating a recovery plan that would have defined wolf recovery (the point at which the Mexican wolf would no longer be on the endangered species list). The team has still not been reconvened. The administration has also refused to abide by scientists’ recommendations that it leave far more wolves alive in the wild through allowing wolves to roam freely and preventing conflicts with livestock. An independent scientific panel, the Paquet Report, recommended these reforms take place “immediately” back in June 2001.

In June 2007, the prestigious American Society of Mammalogists advised ceasing predator control against Mexican wolves at least until the interim goal of 100 wolves has been achieved. In July 2007, Governor Bill Richardson requested that the interagency Mexican wolf predator control protocol known as SOP 13 be suspended. The Fish and Wildlife Service has snubbed both the scientists and the governor.

According to Robinson, “The Bush administration is deploying guns, traps, and lies to ensure the second extinction of the Mexican wolf in the wild. It will take all kinds of people, from scientists to ranchers, as well as the leadership of Governor Richardson working together to save the Mexican wolf.”

POPULATION FIGURES SINCE REINTRODUCTION BEGAN IN 1998

Year

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predicted Releases

15

15

15

15

6

0

0

0

0

0

Predicted Population Growth

7

14

23

35

45

55

68

83

102

Not projected

Predicted Breeding Pairs

1

2

4

6

8

10

12

15

18

Not projected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actual Releases

13

21

16

15

9

8

10

3

4

0

Actual Population

4

15

22

26

42

55

46

38

59

52

Actual Breeding Pairs

0

0

1

3

5

3

6

5

6

3


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