After one of the critically endangered predators was discovered dead in southwestern New Mexico, environmentalists are pressuring the US Fish and Wildlife Service to take additional steps to protect Mexican gray wolves. The particular wolf was reintroduced into the wild to improve biodiversity.
Among the organizations that have criticized the agency’s management of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico is the Western Watersheds Project, which claims that illegal killings continue to harm the population. The Fish and Wildlife Service reports that this year, fewer dead wolves have been discovered compared to those in previous years.
The organization also mentioned a revised wolf recovery plan that was made public in early October. The organization was required by a court order to update the strategy to address the risk of mortality due to human activity as one of the methods for enhancing wolf survivability in the wild.
Given that there was an ongoing investigation, federal officials stated that they were unable to disclose any information about the situation of the most recent death. Such investigations rarely ever concluded.
One of the most genetically valuable Mexican gray wolves in the wild, according to environmentalists, was the male wolf that was recently discovered dead close to Winston. In an attempt to boost genetic diversity, it was cross-fostered into the wild wolf den after being birthed in captivity and afterward released in 2018.
In 2021, the Mexican gray wolf and its partner were apprehended close to the reserve and moved with their young to Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch. This action sparked a legal dispute because ranchers claimed the federal government failed to inform them of plans to create the new pack.
For many years, The Turner Endangered Species Fund and The Ladder Ranch have collaborated on projects involving captive wolves as well as other endangered species. This work has included breeding several endangered Bolson tortoises across Turner’s vast land holdings as well as providing habitat for gray wolves and black-footed ferrets in the northern Rockies.
Wolves vs Livelihood
The conflict has plagued efforts to bring Mexican gray wolves back to the US Southwest for more than 20 years, as ranchers have made complaints about having to chase wolves away to prevent their livestock from being eaten. Numerous people have stated that their livelihoods as well as rural lifestyles are in jeopardy.
Environmentalists claim that the region’s year-round cattle calving season, illegal killings, management choices, and other issues have hampered the reintroduction. According to Center for Biological Diversity data, 119 wolves have been illegally killed from1998 to 2020.
Read Also: Federal Court Restores Protection to Gray Wolves as Threatened Species Across US
When authorities released the most recent public map, Greta Anderson, the Western Watersheds Project director, said she realized the male wolf was missing.
She stated that it is a testament to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s willingness to let wolf #1693 remain in the wild in 2021 and 2022 that he was successfully able to father two litters of pups. Sadly, his life was tragically cut short before he could continue to add to the general diversity of the wild population.
According to the Endangered Species Coalition, Mexican gray wolf, the rarest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America, was declared endangered in 1976 because of being driven to the point of extinction. Seven Mexican wolves, thought to be the last of their kind, were captured between the 1960s and the 1980s, and a captive breeding program was established. In the late 1990s, wolf releases started.
The last annual census found nearly 200 Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, nearly doubling the wild population’s size over the previous five years. A few dozen are also present in Mexico, AP News reports.
Related Article: Wolves Reintroduction Into the Wild Can Restore Local Ecosystems, Scientists Say
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