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For Immediate Release, February 2, 2011

Contact:  Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Endangered Mexican Wolves Increase in Southwest

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Fifty Mexican gray wolves, including two breeding pairs, were counted in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona at the end of 2010, according to a new census conducted by federal and state agencies. The 50 wolves are eight more than the 42 wolves found a year ago, representing the first increase in numbers in four years.

“We are relieved that the trend line is up, but these wolves are still highly imperiled,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The increase is in large part due to the cessation of federal shooting and trapping, which destroyed wolf families, orphaned pups and removed genetically valuable wolves that were more productive breeders.”

Between 1998 and 2007, federal agencies shot 11 Mexican wolves, and an additional 18 wolves died as a result of capture. Thirty-two other wolves trapped from the wild are in long-term captivity.

The year 2007 turned out to be the last for wolf “control,” after New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called for a halt to removals, and with revelations that a ranch hand had baited a wolf pack with a pregnant cow brought near the wolf den in order to effect the pack’s destruction. No wolves were removed from the wild in 2008, 2009 or 2010, allowing the population to finally begin to bounce back.

In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released into the wild two wolves that had been captured as pups with their packs in 2007, the first such releases of captured wolves since February 2009.

“We are pleased that these wolves are finally back in the wild, and we hope they will be the first of dozens more to be released this year,” said Robinson.

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