For Immediate Release, March 28, 2013
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Lawsuit Filed to Protect Border-crossing Wolves Entering Arizona, New Mexico From Government Traps
SILVER CITY, N.M.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today challenging a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will allow federal and state agencies to capture wolves that enter Arizona and New Mexico from either the north or the south and keep them in captivity indefinitely. Mexico has an ongoing program to reintroduce endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Sierra Madre, and wolves from the northern Rockies could move into the Southwest at any time.
“Since time immemorial the Mexican gray wolf lived and loped across both sides of today’s international border,” said the Center’s wolf expert Michael Robinson. “It’s ridiculous and dangerous that endangered wolves crossing lines on the map from one desert mountain range to another risk government capture and confinement. For these wild wolves to recover, they have to be allowed to roam freely.”
The Center’s lawsuit seeks protection of wolves found in New Mexico and Arizona, north of Interstate 40 and south of Interstate 10, from federal and state trapping. The lawsuit does not apply to wolves emanating from the Mexican wolf reintroduction program, begun in 1998, in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which lies between the two interstate highways. Those wolves, which already suffer from reduced protections, are the subject of a separate Center lawsuit seeking science-based reforms in their management.
The contested permit allows the live capture of any number of endangered wolves for any reason, including the primary rationale of protecting livestock. The permit does not require livestock owners to undertake any measures to reduce their risk of losing livestock to wolves before trappers could remove wolves.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service can cite no evidence that trapping wolves and putting them in cages enhances their recovery in the wild,” said Robinson. “These beautiful animals should be allowed to play their important role in maintaining the balance of nature. We shouldn’t have to be protecting vulnerable wolves from the illegal depredations of our own government.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.