A new study released today confirms politics rather than scientific data played a role in influencing criteria for listing and reintroduction efforts for the Mexican gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. The peer-reviewed study published by the Klamath Center for Conservation Research in Scientific Reports analyzes the science the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used to support the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan and how politics interfered with the recovery process.
Craig Miller, senior southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“This study confirms what we’ve known all along, that politics not science has been guiding recovery efforts for the Mexican gray wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in North America. The most recent recovery plan is insufficient and without a change in tactics for reintroduction of genetically healthy wolves and establishment of new populations, this species will disappear from the landscape. The Endangered Species Act requires the use of the best available science to guide the conservation our most imperiled species, and we can no longer allow politics to influence the future of the lobo.”
• The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. At last count, only 114 Mexican wolves survived in the Southwest in a single, small population occupying the Blue Range of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. This population is beset by numerous threats, including widespread illegal killing as well as inbreeding caused by inadequate releases of more genetically diverse wolves from a captive population.
• A federal judge in April 2018 rejected provisions in a 2015 federal management rule that unlawfully imposed roadblocks to recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf. The rule arbitrarily limited the lobos’ population numbers, banned them from needed recovery habitat, and loosened the rules against killing the animals in the wild.
• The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the Southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon regions.