Some timely info about the Border Wall’s impact on wildlife from Defenders.org:
JOHN SCHLOSSBERG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. “el lobo.” The legal action comes on the heels of USFWS’ November release of its long-anticipated
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), names Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. The complaint asserts the USFWS, an ancillary arm of the Interior Department, turned a deaf ear to its own scientists’ recommendations for the minimum number of wolves and the amount of habitat needed for recovery and removal from the endangered species list.
“This recovery plan was designed by politicians and anti-wolf states, not by independent biologists,” said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s an affront to the ESA and Congress’ directive [is to] make decisions solely on the best available science.”
The Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the endangered gray wolf (Canis lupus), was granted endangered species status in 1976 after being hunted to near-extinction. At one point, el lobo almost blinked out entirely after plunging to a low of only 15 animals remaining in the wild. In 1982, the USFWS initiated the original Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to determine a course of action for keeping the species alive. It included a captive breeding program, which in 1988, released three distinct lineages of the animal into the ecosystem.
In 2011, the USFWS’ Science and Planning Subgroup of the Recovery Team (the Subgroup), staffed by independent scientists, recommended that delisting only occur after a 750-wolf total is achieved in the wild. Additionally, the Subgroup recommended that lands in eastern Arizona/western New Mexico, the Grand Canyon region of northern Arizona and southern Utah, and the southern Rockies region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado be allotted as Mexican wolf habitat for recovery efforts.
Despite these recommendations, state governments in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona have set substantial roadblocks in the way of recovery, including a demand that no wolves set foot north of I-40, which runs east-to-west across northern New Mexico and Arizona — meaning no wolves would be allowed to exist in Utah or Colorado whatsoever.
Today, the lobo population in the United States has rebounded slightly, hovering at around 113 animals, with an additional 31 living in Mexico. Yet, instead of following the scientists’ recommendations, the USFWS’ First Revision of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan concluded that 320 wolves would be sufficient for recovery, and in terms of habitat, it left out the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions for “geopolitical reasons,” a move environmental lawyers say is a fundamental violation of the ESA.
“The ecosystems in this region need wolves and the people in this region want wolves — polls overwhelmingly suggest that. So, to eschew the science-based pathway for recovery and instead implement a politically-driven and extremely flawed plan is an affront to people and place,” said Christopher Smith, Southern Rockies Wildlife Advocate for WildEarth Guardians, in an email to EnviroNews.
Conservation groups are suing on four causes of action they say violate the ESA and APA (Administrative Procedure Act), including having “no reasonable explanation for departure” from the Subgroup’s recommendations, “failure to provide objective, measurable criteria necessary for delisting” the wolf, “failure to utilize the best available science,” and “failure to provide site-specific management actions necessary for conservation.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs a plan that guarantees a large enough population of Mexican wolves to be viable over the long term, with sufficient habitat [for] wolves to flourish,” said Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project. “But the current recovery plan doesn’t do that, and instead the federal government seems more intent on appeasing anti-wolf political interests than in doing its job, which is recovering endangered species to healthy and secure population levels.”
The three aforementioned NGOs, which will be joined in the suit by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Wildlands Network, want the court to force the USFWS to have another go at the plan, but this time around, they want it to follow the law as stated by the ESA and ensure that science alone, not politics, guides the recovery of the Mexican wolf.
An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been killed by federal employees after a Native American tribe requested the animal be removed from the wild in the wake of a string of cattle deaths near the Arizona-New Mexico border.
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been killed by federal employees after a Native American tribe requested the animal be removed from the wild in the wake of a string of cattle deaths near the Arizona–New Mexico border.
The death of the female wolf marks the first time in a decade that efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to curb livestock attacks by wolves has had lethal consequences for one of the predators.
The decision to remove the member of the Diamond Pack was first made in June after three calves were killed over several days, sparking concern among wildlife managers about what they described as an unacceptable pattern of predation.
An investigation determined the female wolf was likely the culprit based on GPS and radio telemetry tracking, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
Another calf was killed in July, prompting the White Mountain Apache Tribe to call for the removal. That was followed by one confirmed kill and another probable kill by members of the pack on national forest land adjacent to the reservation.
Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle issued another order in August calling for the wolf’s removal by the most expeditious means possible.
“I am concerned with the numerous depredations in this area over the past year and the toll these depredations have caused the area’s livestock producers,” Tuggle wrote.
Environmentalists decried the move, saying they are concerned about the possibility of managers reverting to a rigid three-strikes rule that called for wolves to be removed from the wild or killed if they preyed on livestock. Following years of legal wrangling, federal officials revised that policy in 2015 to allow for more options when dealing with nuisance wolves.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity argued that killing wolves does nothing in the long run to reduce livestock losses.
“The recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves has taken an unnecessary step backward,” he said.
Fish and Wildlife officials said current rules allow for the control of problem wolves and that the agency will continue to manage wolves in Arizona and New Mexico under those provisions. They also said they will continue to work with ranchers to limit conflicts.
The wolf recovery team earlier this year set up a diversionary cache of food for the Diamond Pack, which roams parts of tribal land and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Two other pack members were also removed and placed in captivity at the beginning of the year due to predation concerns.
There are now more Mexican gray wolves roaming the American Southwest than at any time since the federal government began trying to reintroduce the animals nearly two decades ago. The most recent annual survey shows at least 113 wolves spread between southwestern New Mexico and southeast Arizona.
Efforts to return the predators to the region have been hampered over the years by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been criticized for its management of the wolves by ranchers, who say the animals are a threat to their livelihoods, and environmentalists who want more captive-bred wolves to be released.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using sperm that had been frozen.
| April 24, 2017, at 4:10 p.m.
By JIM SALTER, Associated Press
EUREKA, Mo. (AP) — A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.
The Mexican wolf population once roamed Mexico and the western U.S. in the thousands but was nearly wiped out by the 1970s, largely from decades of hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly known as “El Lobos,” the species, distinguished by a smaller, more narrow skull and its gray and brown coloring, was designated an endangered species in 1976.
Even today, only 130 Mexican wolves live in the wild and another 220 live in captivity, including 20 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.
A litter of Mexican wolves was conceived by artificial insemination in Mexico in 2014. But the birth April 2 at the Missouri center was the first-ever for the breed using frozen semen.
Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the center, learned for the first time Monday that the pup is a boy. He’s gaining weight — now at 4.7 pounds after being less than 1 pound at birth — and appears to be progressing well, she said after an exam of the wiggly pup, which has not yet been named.
“He’s big and strong and healthy!” Mossotti said as other wolves howled from a distance.
The center has collaborated with the other organizations for 20 years to freeze semen of Mexican wolves. The semen is stored at the St. Louis Zoo’s cryopreservation gene bank, established specifically for the long-term conservation of endangered species.
A procedure to inseminate the mom, Vera, was performed Jan. 27.
“The technology has finally caught up,” Mossotti said.
It’s a big deal, experts say, because using frozen semen allows scientists to draw from a larger pool of genes, even from wolves that have died.
Mossotti said it’s possible the new pup will eventually be moved to the wild, where it would feed largely on elk, deer and other large hoofed mammals. An adult Mexican wolf will weigh 60 to 80 pounds.
The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998, though the effort has been hurt by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics. Many of the wolves in the wild have genetic ties to the suburban St. Louis center.
The nonprofit was founded in 1971 by zoologist Marlin Perkins, a St. Louis native best known as the host of TV’s “Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom.” Perkins died in 1986.
Mossotti said wolves are a “keystone” species that play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. She said the caricature of the “Big, Bad Wolf” is a myth about an animal that actually shuns humans.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tuggle, Regional Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region
Goal: Return Guardian the wolf to his pack to help maintain his struggling species.
In the summer of 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured Guardian, one of a tiny number of Mexican gray wolves still living in the wild. And Guardian isn’t just one wolf — as his name suggests, he’s the alpha male of a pack that includes young pups who rely on him and his mate for food. Capturing Guardian and placing him in captivity puts their survival, and the survival of the entire species, in jeopardy. The Fish and Wildlife Service must recognize the damage they’re doing and release Guardian immediately.
Mexican gray wolves were almost driven to extinction during the 20th century and, by the millennium, they were believed to have been wiped out in many regions of North America. Efforts to reintroduce the animal at the turn of the century have slowly begun to show progress, but the species remains critically endangered, with experts suggesting that fewer than 100 currently exist in the wild. Until recently, one of those was wolf M1396, named Guardian by Albuquerque schoolchildren as part of a competition to name the 17 pups born in 2014. Guardian lived in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, as part of the Luna pack, a group of wolves that included his mate and their pups.
Life is not easy for Mexican wolves, so when local ranchers started abandoning dead cattle on land near his hunting grounds rather than disposing of them responsibly, Guardian soon learned to scavenge from their carcasses. From this, he also learned to hunt cattle: a reliable source of meat to feed his hungry pups. Under pressure from ranchers keen to maintain their profits, the Fish and Wildlife Service moved to stop this predation by capturing Guardian and keeping him in captivity, just as they had with his brother, Century, in the past. This not only deprives his pups of his protection and care, but may drive his mate to begin hunting cattle too, in a desperate bid to feed her young. With no indication of Guardian’s condition or current whereabouts, it’s vital we maintain pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse their decision and release Guardian back in to the wild. Please sign below to demand that Guardian is immediately released to his pack.
Dear Dr Tuggle,
In 2016, you captured wolf M1396 in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico, and took him into captivity in response to him preying on cattle. In so doing, you removed him from the Luna pack, depriving his pups of a key source of food and placing intense pressure on his mate to support her growing young. This pressure could mean she is forced to hunt cattle herself in order to sustain them, or may even result in the pups receiving insufficient nutrition and dying of starvation.
I appreciate that you are under pressure from local ranchers to control the wolf population in a manner that does not interfere with their ongoing profits. However, removing Guardian from his family places the whole pack in serious jeopardy, and with fewer than 100 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the wild, the loss of a single pack could be catastrophic for the entire species. Accordingly, I call upon you to reverse your decision and release Guardian back into the wild to help maintain the survival of his species.
[Your Name Here]
by Stephen Capra
The Commission of Evil
In a crowded room at the Santa Fe Community College last Thursday, we were witness to the latest failure of a commission designed to support and enhance wildlife in our state. The question before them was the continued use of Ted Turner’s ranch as a staging area for the release of the Mexican wolf.
This commission was clearly wary, after an earlier meeting in November on this subject; they found themselves shouted down by citizens, who were disgusted by the commission’s actions, and their determination to slaughter all wolves in our state. This time they took great strides to state that wolves were here to stay, that really the issue here was a technicality; one that their arcane system sadly could not support, but, hey, we can find a way forward at a later date.
Translation: we will defuse the situation now, and continue to obfuscate wolf recovery in every way possible. Our newest commissioner, Elizabeth Atkinson Ryan, an oil and gas attorney from Roswell and a member of the Safari Club ( a group that kills wildlife internationally for trophies,) made a long and grating explanation of why they could not change the Chairman’s decision to deny permit renewal for Turner’s Ladder Ranch. At times, other commissioners chimed in with their message that they supported wolves but “unfortunately” they could not support Turner, well because, they just could not break ranks with the Chairman, but hey, “we support wolves.”
This was met with ‘sardonic’ laughter from the audience, many of whom have witnessed the complete slaughter of wildlife at the hands of these seven republican cowards. Several minute later, they voted 7-0 to end the release program at Turner’s Ranch, while loudly inviting them to reapply and “meet this commission half way.”
The real question in all of this is clear: how much longer must we allow this commission to exist? How much longer can we allow the indiscriminate killing of wildlife to continue?
Aldo Leopold fought our Governors at the turn of the last century to allow the choice of the Game Warden to be controlled by sportsmen. After a bruising battle, he lost and the Governor continued to select Wardens; usually a perk to a major donor. Little has changed in the past century, only now we have a commission of seven people, none of whom have a real concept of biodiversity.
It is biodiversity that must be at the core of every decision; that is why the concept of a commission has long ago grown “archaic,” in Chairman Kienzle’s own words. We do not need a commission controlled by sportsmen, ranchers or oil and gas interests. We need an agency run by a director, that is given a clear mission: every action we take must be taken to enhance biodiversity.
Wolves in our state face one clear future if commissions such as this remain; there will be a hunting season and that is a disaster for wolves in the wild. There will be a trapping season on wolves and that is a moral outrage. There will be a continued spreading of ignorance and fear about an animal that is perfectly designed to enhance biodiversity and improve the natural balance of wildlife, while improving the land.
At Bold Visions Conservation, our mission for the past several years has been to disband this commission. Their actions and appointments are slaughtering wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes. They are not here to enhance wildlife, but to cater to special interests in the livestock, oil and gas and fringe farming communities. They speak of hunting as though it was a 365 day a year enterprise. They want our children to learn to kill, to trap and to carry the same disregard for animals that they display every meeting.
The saying goes you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. This commission represents nothing but pure evil. They are a group of political insiders that relish their role in the slaughter of innocent wildlife. There is no redemption, no reason to hope things will change, and we must simply end their reign of terror.
We must also work to change the charter of the State Game and Fish Department which currently is a rambling statement of support for off-road vehicles, shooting wild game, support trapping, etc. This mission needs to focus like a laser on one thing: enhancing biodiversity!
Disbandment and Game & Fish Department reform will not happen overnight, but if we are to truly help wildlife and improve our lands and waters, we cannot accept the status quo. We must create this change for the next generation; it is our gift and our moral imperative for our children and the generations to come: a gift and action of respect, to the animals that so enhance our lives.
A new political battle is brewing over Mexican wolves, a species that was hunted and poisoned to extinction in the U.S. Southwest, but reintroduced to the wild by the federal government in 1998. Earlier this week, the New Mexico Game Commission upheld an earlier decision denying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) permits to release Mexican wolves onto federal land in southwestern New Mexico. According to FWS and independent scientists, such releases are critical for diversifying the gene pool of the increasingly inbred wolf population.
State officials have said they are unwilling to approve new releases until FWS updates its recovery plan for the wolf, which was written in 1982. Concerned about impacts to ranchers and elk hunters, they’ve pressed FWS for the total number of wolves it aims to restore to the landscape in the long-term. But the agency doesn’t have that number yet, and though it is updating the recovery plan, the process is likely to take at least 2 years.
Now, the federal agency must decide whether to release the wolves against the state’s wishes. Federal policy requires FWS to consult state agencies and comply with their permitting processes when releasing endangered animals from captivity, even when releases are made on federal land. But there’s one exception: If a state agency prevents the service from fulfilling its statutory responsibilities, the feds can go over the state’s head.
In this case, “our responsibility is to recover the Mexican wolf,” says FWS spokesman Jeff Humphrey. “Our recovery could be stalled, at best, by failing to be able to insert a more diverse gene pool into the existing wild population.”
Still, the agency is remaining vague about its next move. The agency’s top brass would have to reach a formal decision that it can’t recover the wolf without new releases for them to proceed without the state’s blessing, Humphrey says.
The effort to restore wolves to the Southwest has always been mired in controversy. In the Northern Rockies, gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, a large protected area where neither cattle grazing nor big game hunting are allowed. In the case of the Mexican wolf, however, the 18,100-square-kilometer recovery area straddling Arizona and New Mexico is national forest land that is both grazed and hunted, which has increased human conflict with the animals.
Over the years, the feds have made concessions to the states. In the beginning, for example, New Mexico rejected the release of captive animals within its borders (though wolves could wander in on their own), so the feds didn’t try. But because most of the recovery area is in New Mexico, that left only a small swath of Arizona for the animals. Wolves populated that area fairly quickly, making it difficult to make additional releases, which became few and far between.
On top of that, any wolves that roamed outside the official recovery area were captured and kept in captivity, or released back into their approved wild habitat. Wolves that killed cattle also were removed from the wild, sometimes by killing them. Wolves were poached, and some were baited by ranchers to predate on cattle and violate a “three strikes” rule, which allowed the feds to kill them.
When wolves were removed from the wild, however, their genetic value to the population was never considered. And a series of removals in the mid-2000s left only one pack on the landscape that had high reproductive success, says Rich Fredrickson, an independent population geneticist based in Missoula, Montana, who serves on the recovery team.
That pack’s dominance has created inbreeding problems. The individuals in the wild population today are, on average, as related as siblings, Fredrickson says. “This is the poster child, in my mind at least, in North America for the need to pay close attention to genetic management,” he says.
Last year, FWS biologists estimated the population of Mexican wolves at 109 animals, the highest it’s been since reintroduction and double its size in 2010. It’s important to try to diversify the gene pool while the population is still small, biologists say; the larger it gets, the less likely management actions are to be effective.
The agency had hoped to introduce some greater genetic diversity this summer by “cross-fostering” pups; that’s a process in which pups born in the wild are removed from dens and replaced with pups born in captivity. It also wanted to release a mating pair currently being held at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in La Joya, New Mexico, if they had pups.
New Mexico says no
A federal rule change earlier this year opened the door for releases in New Mexico, and also expanded the territory where wild wolves would be allowed to roam. But in June, Alexa Sandoval, director of New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish, declined to issue permits for the release of the mating pair, or cross-fostering pups, arguing that the feds have not provided specific criteria which must be met for recovery of the wolf to be considered successful, nor detailed the steps it must take to get there.
The Game Commission, a seven-member body appointed by the governor that oversees Sandoval’s agency and sets its policies, upheld her decision on 29 September after hearing an appeal from FWS last month. In August, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission also voted to not allow the release of adult wolves from captivity, but to allow as many as six pups per year to be cross-fostered.
On its own, however, cross fostering won’t solve the wolves’ genetic woes, researchers say. For it to help at all, the pups have to survive and breed. “In general, lots of pups die in captivity and the wild,” Fredrickson says.
Cross-fostering introduces additional complications: Genetically valuable pups must be born in captivity at almost exactly the same time as a wild litter, and managers have to closely monitor wild wolves to know that has happened. The pups then have to be swapped within 2 weeks of birth. “To the extent they can do cross-fostering, that’s great, but it’s not going to be enough,” Fredrickson says. “They need to increase releases.”
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and her hand picked Game Commission are clearly out of touch with the majority of New Mexico voters, who support wolf recovery.
Please stand with us for wolves, cougars and bears on August 27th.
In the past few months, the New Mexico Game Commission has repeatedly sought to undermine the recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves, first by denying, without justification, the 17 year old permit for Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch to continue assisting with the Mexican wolf reintroduction and more recently by denying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife a permit to release Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico, which is necessary to boost the wild population’s declining genetic health.
This is particularly troubling given that Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) recently introduced legislation to remove Mexican gray wolves’ federal Endangered Species Act protections, which would leave them at the mercy of states clearly hostile to their recovery.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s appeal of the Mexican wolf permit denial is on the agenda for the August 27, 2015 Commission meeting. Members of the public will not be allowed to speak during the Mexican wolf agenda item, but we intend to make our voices heard at a rally at 8:00 am before the meeting begins and to stand in silence for wolves in the meeting during these agenda items.
The commission will also vote on its proposals to allow cougars to be cruelly trapped and to expand bear hunting in NM. Those who wish to speak for cougars and bears should plan to be at the meeting by 8:30 am to fill out speaker cards.
Santa Fe Community College
6401 Richards Ave.
Santa Fe New Mexico
Click here for map
Got to the west side of the main entrance and gather at the front of the building.
You can see a flagpole at the front entrance as you drive up the hill to the front entrance-go towards the flag.
The rally is at 8 am
Please RSVP for the rally here.
Wolf supporters are invited to learn more and get inspired at an event hosted the night before the rally by conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Mexicanwolves.org, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Sandia Mountain BearWatch, Southwest Environmental Center and Great Old Broads for Wilderness.
Santa Fe, NM
August 26, 2015
6 – 7:30 pm
Santa Fe Public Library Community Room – 2nd Floor
145 Washington Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Michael Robinson from the Center for Biological Diversity will give a Mexican wolf presentation. Mexicanwolves.org representatives will introduce the Santa Fe Packtivist program for area wolf activists. Sierra Club’s Mary Katherine Ray will talk about the Game Commission’s proposals to expand bear hunting and cougar trapping.
For more information about this event, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rare wolves in the American Southwest will be allowed more room to roam but some could be marked for death if they prey too heavily on elk and deer prized by hunters, under a rule issued by federal officials on Monday.
The rule revising management of the fewer than 100 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico stems from legal challenges by the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity, which argued U.S. wildlife managers failed to properly protect the so-called Mexican wolf.
The federal government’s new management plan for the endangered Mexican wolf, which is one of the most imperiled mammals in North America, enlarges the acreage it can occupy without relocation and expands the area where captive wolves can be released into the wild, according to a statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
U.S. wildlife officials also declared the Mexican wolf was a separate subspecies to the gray wolf found elsewhere in the United States. That ensures Mexican wolves would not be included in a proposal by President Barack Obama’s administration to remove gray wolves in states outside Alaska from the federal endangered and threatened species list.
The Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that 300 to 325 Mexican wolves would be needed in the U.S. Southwest for the animals to be considered recovered and stripped of protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Conservationists argued the revisions were still insufficient to guarantee the Mexican wolf would make a strong comeback and said a minimum of 750 were needed for the animal’s long-term survival.
They also took aim at a rule unveiled on Monday that gives the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more leeway to allow state wildlife agencies and others to kill Mexican wolves.
The rule change would allow such killing of the predators to protect livestock and other domestic animals or to prevent what the service called “unacceptable impacts” on elk and deer herds valued by hunters.
“This is very worrisome,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These wolves were subjected to a ruthless extermination campaign to the point where they nearly went extinct.”