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For Immediate Release, November 20, 2012

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Release of More Mexican Gray Wolves to Wild Needed to Stop Genetic Inbreeding

This Week Marks Four Years Since Last Release of Captive-bred Wolf

SILVER CITY, N.M.— To mark this week’s four-year anniversary of the last release of a Mexican gray wolf into the southwestern wilderness, the Center for Biological Diversity has called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to dramatically increase the number of wolves in the wild. This is needed to stave off genetic inbreeding, which scientists say may now be limiting the size and health of some wolf litters.

Under pressure from the livestock industry, the Service has ceased releasing captive-bred wolves into the wild in recent years. Unfortunately this means there’s little genetic diversity flowing into the fledgling wild wolf population, which compromises the ability of the 58 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico to grow healthily and sustainably.

“By starving the wild wolf population of new animals, the Fish and Wildlife Service is stacking the odds against their recovery,” said the Center’s wolf specialist, Michael Robinson. “Resuming the release of wolves into the wild is absolutely essential to overcoming inbreeding and ensuring the success of this wolf recovery program.”

All Mexican wolves in the world today stem from just seven animals captured alive from the wild in Mexico and the United States, the last one in 1980. After reintroduction of the wolves to Arizona and New Mexico began in 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service had many of the most genetically valuable wolves shot or trapped on behalf of the livestock industry. Consequently the captive population will have to jump-start the wild population again.

“Too many wolves have been taken out of the wild, both by the government and by poachers. That’s a tragedy, and it puts the Mexican wolf’s future in jeopardy,” said Robinson. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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