Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | March 23, 2010

Mexican Wolves in Danger – Take Action

Mexican wolves are in real trouble – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the Mexican wolf population of New Mexico and Arizona plummeted by 20 percent in 2009. This recent survey counted only 42 wolves and two breeding pairs – bringing them closer to a second extinction in the wild.  They remain one of the most endangered animals in North America. 

The Mexican gray wolf reintroduction project began in 1998, and the wolves have been doing their part ever since – forming packs, finding mates and raising pups.  It is a story of both success and frustration. The wolves are back, but they are struggling.

Under mounting legal pressure from Defenders of Wildlife and its allies, the FWS, who hold a legal mandate and responsibility to recover Mexican wolves, agreed in November 2009 to end a “three strikes and you’re out” policy that has frustrated efforts to rescue endangered Mexican gray wolves from extinction in the wild.

The heavy-handed “three strikes” policy has been hobbling wolf recovery efforts for years by requiring that any wolf implicated in three livestock losses in one year be shot or trapped, without regard to its genetic importance or the precarious state of the population. This rigid policy claimed the lives of 11 wolves and sent many more back to captivity, seriously undermining efforts to recover one of the most endangered animals in America and restore an important part of Southwest ecosystems.

The captive population is unfortunately not a perpetual safety net from which we can always release wolves.  Not only do animals residing in captivity for many generations lose general fitness, but Mexican wolves in particular (because they are descended from just 7 founders) are becoming more unhealthy. To survive and protect all of its genetic potential, the species needs to rapidly expand its numbers beyond what is possible in captivity.

This year’s catastrophic population loss is not yet completely understood. In 2009, 31 pups were born, no wolves were removed for conflicts with livestock, and it looked like a very promising year.  However, by year end the population not only didn’t increase, it actually lost ground.  Illegal killings, which continue to plague the program, are part of the problem. Over 30 wolves have been stalked and killed by criminals intent on destroying the Mexican wolf.  

Eva Sargent, Ph.D., the Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife states that “Mexican wolves are in big trouble. With numbers so perilously low, every single wolf in the wild counts toward the animal’s survival.  Defenders of Wildlife proposes the following solutions:

  • The USFWS immediately get to work on an up-to-date recovery plan and genetic rescue plan.
  • Release more wolves to replace those lost to poaching or other factors;
  • Emphasize both law enforcement and prosecution of wolf-killers.
  • Commit more resources to preventing conflicts between livestock and wolves.

My name is Tokina – although I resemble a wolf I am a beautiful Husky mix residing here at the Second Chance Shelter until someone (could it be you?) adopts me.  I have a great concern for my distant relatives, the wolves, and I hope that you will help me to change their outcome.  To learn more and find out how you can take action visit: www.savewolves.org.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Volunteer & Foster Care, or other Programs.  Visit our shelter pets online: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.  Direct Pet Column questions to:  kelly@secondchancehumanesociety.orgPhoto by Real Life Photographs.

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