Madeleine Winer, The Republic
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Attorney General’s Office have filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging it has failed to update its Mexican-wolf recovery plan.
The state is asking the secretary of the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a modern plan that would improve Arizona’s involvement in recovery efforts and establish a target number of Mexican wolves for the area.
“If you think about wildlife management, part of what you want is for a target number of animals for there to be a balance in the rest of the biotic community,” said Jim deVos, Arizona Game and Fish Department assistant director for wildlife management. “You don’t want to have too many of the one thing. We want a healthy population of wolves in balance with social, economic and wildlife needs in the state of Arizona.”
The current Mexican-wolf recovery plan, established in 1982, allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain a captive breeding program and re-establish the population with 100 Mexican wolves released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. Currently, deVos said, 109 wolves inhabit Arizona.
The Game and Fish Department claims the 1982 plan fails to identify how many animals would constitute recovery of the population and allow the wolves to be removed from the list of endangered species in the future. For decades, there have been conflicts between ranchers and the wolves.