Defenders’ Southwest region – Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – includes the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts of the borderlands, the forests of the Sky Islands, Mogollon Rim and Southern Rocky Mountains, the rugged oak-juniper woodlands of the Edwards Plateau, and the bays and estuaries of the Gulf Coast. Flowing through these landscapes are the great Colorado and Rio Grande rivers, bringing moisture to otherwise arid lands. 

This variability supports high biological diversity, which is threatened by urbanization, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, open-pit mining and water diversion. New threats include climate change and the border wall. Iconic predators like the Mexican gray wolf, jaguar and ocelot are barely hanging on, while populations that depend on vanishing waters have crashed—the southwestern willow flycatcher is endangered, and more than 50% of native fishes in Arizona are listed under the Endangered Species Act. 


Defenders' Impact

We highlight with partners the habitat destruction caused by the border wall and the impacts on wildlife movement, organizing activists and generating media coverage while we educate Congress and litigate to stop immediate threats. 

To recover Mexican gray wolves, we work closely with government agencies, ranchers and Native American tribes to restore wolves and reduce conflict. We collaborate with scientists on the reintroduction of jaguars into their historic range in Arizona and New Mexico, and we are leaders in ocelot conservation in south Texas. 

Defenders also promotes policies to guide state agencies in identifying wildlife corridors and connecting protected lands, and advocates for endangered species like the dune sagebrush lizard threatened by oil and gas development in Texas and New Mexico, and the golden-cheeked warbler which breeds only in central Texas. 

Rock Waves Vermillion Cliffs NM
Image Credit
Vittorio Ricci

What We Do

Conserving Imperiled Species

In the Southwest, we work to conserve imperiled species like jaguars, ocelots, Mexican gray wolves, fish, birds and sea turtles.

Protecting Habitat

We are defending the important habitats and the many wildlife corridors that run through the Southwest.

Promoting Coexistence

We are implementing proven coexistence techniques that reduce conflicts between Mexican gray wolves and livestock.

Combating Climate Change

We are promoting Smart from the Start renewable energy initiatives with responsible siting to limit impacts to wildlife.

Speaking for Wildlife

In New Mexico, Arizona and Texas we are involved in state-level legislation and advocate for Southwest wildlife on a national scale.

Rock Waves Vermillion Cliffs NM
Image Credit
Vittorio Ricci


New Mexico wildlife
Albuquerque, NM

New Mexico Formally Commits to Biden’s America the Beautiful Plan

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order (EO) today focused on protecting New Mexico’s biodiversity, carbon stores and natural working lands. Despite being rich in species of plants and wildlife, only 5% of New Mexico’s lands and waters are protected with biodiversity as the priority.

Wildlife and Wild Places

Where We Work

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