Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For Immediate Release: June 8, 2006

Michael Robinson, 505-534-0360
Bryan O'Neal, 520-623-5252 ext. 309

Bush Administration in Process of Wiping Out
Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo – the diminutive border wolf identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1986 as the most endangered mammal in North America – is being trapped and shot into oblivion by the Bush administration.

Reintroduced into the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico in 1998 after being exterminated early in the 20th century, the Mexican wolf was projected to reach 102 animals in 18 breeding pairs by the end of this year. Instead, after initial success, the population declined by 20 percent in both 2004 and 2005 and continues to decline today. At the end of last year only 5 breeding pairs and 35 total wolves could be counted in the wild.

In the last two weeks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf control program killed 10 Mexican wolves, including six pups in one pack. An additional, orphaned pup is too young to survive in the wild and has almost certainly starved or been eaten by other predators. Three more packs are at imminent risk because they have preyed on livestock. In many cases, wolves learn to prey on livestock by scavenging on the carcasses of cattle and horses that die of other causes.

In June 2001, independent scientists who were hired to write the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Three-Year Review warned that the control program was removing too many wolves and would prevent the population from reaching its goals unless critical reforms were instituted immediately. The Fish and Wildlife Service pledged to take action but has failed to do so.

The proposed reforms would bring the Mexican wolf program up to the same standards as those used in the successful reintroduction program for northern gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. That reintroduction began in 1995, three years prior to the Mexican wolf reintroduction, and has resulted in approximately 1,000 wolves now roaming a tri-state region.

The scientists’ two most important recommendations were to: (1) allow wolves to roam outside the arbitrary boundaries of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, just like all other endangered species are allowed (Mexican wolves are currently trapped if they go onto the “wrong” national forest); and (2) require ranchers to remove or render inedible the carcasses of cattle and horses that die of non-wolf causes and habituate wolves to regarding livestock as prey.

“The Bush administration is running an extermination program masquerading as a recovery program,” charged Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. Robinson’s book, Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West (University Press of Colorado, 2005), details how a second extermination of the Mexican wolf is now underway.

The U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey poisoned and trapped all wolves in the western United States between 1915 and 1945, including Mexican wolves. In 1950, its successor agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, began sending American salaried personnel and U.S.-produced poison to Mexico to duplicate the extermination program there.

After passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, only five wolves could be captured alive in Mexico for an emergency captive breeding program; four of those were males and just one was female. No wolves have been confirmed alive in the wild in Mexico since 1980.

The Center for Biological Diversity will lead reporters to areas of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Apache National Forest in Arizona where three wolf packs are likely the next targets for the Fish and Wildlife Service to try to wipe out. For details, contact Michael Robinson, at the phone number above.


more press releases. . .

Go back