Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

PHOTO BY WILDEARTH GUARDIANS

Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

It’s a critical time for recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves, so raise your voice to protect and defend lobos

Speak up for Wolves: Sign the Petition!

The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please sign the petition!

Tweet for Lobos! 

We’ve assembled nine ready-to-go tweets, complete with inspiring images and a link to the petition. All you have to do is “grab-n-go” to help raise awareness and make a big difference in the defense of the lobos! P.S. These work great on Facebook, too!

Tweet #1

#Wolves keep the Gila wild! Celebrate the 96th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico by urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gila’s most iconic resident—the critically endangered Mexican #wolf: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves #KeepItWild #StopExtinction


Tweet #2

Lobos are essential! Mexican gray #wolves are critical ecosystem influencers in the desert Southwest. They keep prey populations healthy and in balance, protect riparian and aquatic resources, and indicate the health of entire ecosystems. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #3

Humans are the largest obstacle to recovering Mexican #wolves. Along with illegal trapping, poaching and vehicular mortalities, politically motivated ‘recovery’ plans have put lobos in a precarious position. Take action to help get #wolf recovery right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves

Tweet #4

Real recovery for Mexican #wolves would include three distinct, but connected populations. Along with lobos‘ current range in the Greater Gila Bioregion, the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies are identified as prime habitat. Help make it happen: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #5

Mexican #wolves in the wild are, on average, as related as brothers and sisters. Though lobos numbers are slowly increasing, the greatest indicator of a successful #wolf recovery effort is the genetic health of the wild population. Support real recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #6

Recovery of wild Mexican gray #wolves is at a critical juncture as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft #wolf management rule for the Southwest. Help defend lobos! Submit your comment: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves Register for our webinar: https://guardiansaction.org/wolf-webinar



Tweet #7

To truly recover Mexican gray #wolves a new management rule should be based on the best available science and prioritize enhancing the genetic diversity of the wild lobo population. Raise your voice to make sure Mexican #wolf recovery is done right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #8

Did you know that the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is the most endangered gray #wolf in North America and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world? Tell the @USFWS we need a new management rule that will actually recover Mexican #wolves: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #9

Almost a century after Aldo Leopold shot a Mexican #wolf in the Gila, only 163 of these wolves exist in the wild. The fierce green fire he saw in the wolf’s eyes still flickers in the #wolves who roam the Greater Gila today. Help support full recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Amplify YOUR Voice for Wolves: Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to share your perspective and encourage others to speak up for lobos. It’s easy, fast, and effective—all you have to do is write your short perspective on why wolves deserve more protections and why the southwest needs more wolves. Be sure to mention that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on wolf management right now and comments can be submitted here: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolf

You can submit your letter to your local outlet, or if you are not from the region, submit it to a statewide outlet. Here are direct links to submission forms, note that different papers have different word count limits.

New Mexico

Arizona

LTE Talking Points: Here are key elements of a new lobo management rule that will help truly recover and restore Mexican wolves to their historic range. Please use these talking points as a guideline for drafting your individual LTE, but what’s most important is that your voice and your reason for wanting lobo recovery come through. So, please speak in your own words, but make sure to emphasis the fact that a new Mexican wolf management rule must achieve the following:

Release more wolves into the wild

  • Releasing adult wolf pairs with pups is the only way to help diversify the genetics of wild wolves.

Limit the removal of wild wolves

  • Wolf removal, whether for crossing arbitrary political boundaries or being accused of livestock depredation when ranchers are reckless, is unacceptable.

Protect lobos from poaching

  • Lobos’ greatest threat is human-caused mortality. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do better to protect wolves from illegal killings.

Reduce wolf-livestock conflict

  • Wolves are native carnivores highly adapted to the desert southwest. They should not bear the burden of livestock-wildlife conflict when non-native cows are grazing on public lands without protection.

Wolves need to be designated as “essential” to the recovery of the species in the wild

Forest service revokes grazing permit, fines man who killed a wolf with a shovel

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By KSL.com Staff, KSL.com | Posted – Jul 11th, 2019 @ 12:16pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The southwest regional forester with the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to revoke a grazing permit from Craig Theissen in the Canyon del Buey area near Datil, New Mexico, in addition to fines charged by federal courts.

Thiessen originally pleaded guilty to the killing of a young Mexican wolf through intentionally trapping and bludgeoning it with a shovel in 2015 on public lands, according to Thiessen’s court documents, in which he pleaded guilty. In explanation, Thiessen said that he had caught the wolf in a leg hold trap on his grazing allotment and killed it because he was worried that if he didn’t hit it with the shovel it would kill him as soon as he released it.

“I knew the animal I caught in the leg hold trap was a Mexican gray wolf because it wore a tracking collar affixed to all Mexican gray wolves in the area,” Thiessen explained in the court documents. Further, he acknowledged that Mexican gray wolves are a threatened species.

The U.S. Forest Service has said that failing to comply with federal laws protecting wildlife, especially with those protected by the Endangered Species Act, gives the Southwest regional forester the authorization to revoke a person’s grazing permits, according to the press release. The case was submitted for review by Calvin N. Joyner, the regional forester.

Joyner gave his official decision on the appeal on July 2nd, deciding to revoke Theissen’s grazing permit. He added that this is a situation where the cancellation is appropriate, as Thiessen “admitted to taking an illegal action and violating federal law. He pleaded guilty and he was convicted by a federal court. His conviction is a violation of the grazing permit.”

Joyner added in his official decision that the Endangered Species Act states that criminal conviction under that statute should result in the immediate cancellation of a grazing permit.

“When ranchers violate federal law or break the terms of their grazing permits, the forest service is absolutely right to revoke their permission to graze on public land,” Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, said in the press release. “Mr. Thiessen’s actions violated one of our bedrock environmental laws, shocked and horrified members of the public who want to see wolves recovered, and dealt a blow to New Mexico’s wild [wolf] population.”

Theissen’s livestock will need to be removed from the Canyon del Buey area by the end of August.

The deadliest year for Mexican gray wolves

The unique, beautiful landscape of the American southwest echos with the howls of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in our nation. Mexican gray wolves, or “lobos,” have been the subject of conservation efforts since 1976.1

But 2018 was the deadliest year for Mexican gray wolves since their reintroduction program began.2 If these wolves are going to continue to recover, they need all the support they can get.

With two new U.S. senators in Arizona, it’s a prime time to remind them — and the senators from New Mexico — that their states’ wolves need advocates if they are to survive. Add your name to remind southwestern senators to support Mexican gray wolf recovery in their states.

Wolves Need Us

Five dead Mexican wolves in November brought the year’s mortality count up to a record-breaking 17.3 With only 114 individuals remaining in the wild, every dead wolf is a terrible blow to the population’s health.

From the very beginning, Mexican wolf reintroduction has been plagued by poaching and human interference. Five of the 11 lobos originally released in 1998 were killed, prompting the agency to bring the survivors back into the relative safety of captivity before trying again.4 Just last December, a New Mexico rancher had his grazing permit revoked for trapping a Mexican gray wolf and hitting it with a shovel.5

History, both distant and recent, shows that Mexican gray wolves need our help.And it was former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake who pushed strongly for Mexican gray wolves to lose their protections last year — so it’s important that his successors start off their tenure on the right foot with regard to these irreplaceable animals.6

Tell the senators from New Mexico and Arizona to protect the Mexican gray wolves that roam the southwestern U.S.

Your voice is a powerful tool for wolf conservation. Tens of thousands of Environmental Action supporters have spoken up for wolves of all kinds every time they’ve come under threat — and we’ve seen great results. We’ve preserved Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. We spoke up together to ensure the safety of the last 35 wild red wolves.

It’s time to raise our voices to win that same safety for Mexican gray wolves. They’re a unique and beautiful part of our nation’s ecology. They can’t go overlooked.

Let’s ensure that the senators from southwestern states don’t forget their responsibility to protect their states’ irreplaceable wildlife.

Thank you for standing with wolves,

The Environmental Action team

1. “What is a Mexican Wolf?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, August 1, 2018.
2. Susan Montoya Bryan, “A Record Number of Mexican Gray Wolves Were Found Dead in 2018 Imperiling Conservation Efforts,” Associated Press, December 13, 2018.
3. “Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, November 2018.
4. Susan Montoya Bryan, “A Record Number of Mexican Gray Wolves Were Found Dead in 2018 Imperiling Conservation Efforts,” Associated Press, December 13, 2018.
5. Alex Devoid, “Forest Service moves to revoke rancher’s grazing permit for trapping, hitting endangered wolf,” Arizona Republic, December 17, 2018.
6. Brandon Loomis, “100 wolves enough? Jeff Flake wants to remove federal protections for Mexican gray wolves,” AZ Central, January 8, 2018.

Mexican wolf count indicates that true recovery is distant

  APR 8, 2019

Commentary: Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that 131 Mexican gray wolves survive in the wilds of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The annual count shows a small increase from last year’s count of 114. The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team deployed in February and found at least 64 wolves in Arizona and 67 wolves in New Mexico. The population is divided into 32 known packs along with a number of solo wolves. The relatively slow growth of the population is not surprising, given extraordinarily high Mexican wolf mortalities in 2018 and political sideboards too narrowly constraining the recovery strategy for the endangered species.

“Until the illegal killings are stopped and the gene pool is supplemented by the release of bonded adult pairs with pups, we can expect the same slow growth,” said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “My hope is that the state of New Mexico exemplifies new leadership in aiding the recovery of our iconic lobo—a proactive role by the Department of Game and Fish and the banning of traps in the Mexican wolf recovery area are good ways to start.”

A deeply flawed “recovery” plan released by the Trump administration in November 2017 and the looming threat of an anti-wildlife border wall increase the risk of extinction for the genetically fragile wild population.

“Trump’s border wall poses a huge threat to the Mexican gray wolf. Our population of Mexican wolves in the U.S. simply does not have enough genetic diversity to be healthy over time,” said Amanda Munro, field organizer for Southwest Environmental Center. “Genetic exchange with populations in Mexico is key to the long-term survival of our wolves. No matter if it’s made of concrete or steel, or if it’s called a wall or a fence, a border wall would make that genetic exchange impossible. It would separate the Mexico and U.S. populations forever, and increase the risk of our lobo going locally extinct.”

Mexican gray wolves continue to suffer from illegal killings that have resulted in very few limited enforcement actions. There were 21 documented wolf mortalities in 2018, the highest number since the recovery program began in 1998. Many mortalities remain unexplained, but human-caused mortalities persist as the biggest threat to recovery. In New Mexico, at least 5 lobos have been caught in traps since November 2018. One endangered wolf died and another lost a leg. The New Mexico legislature failed to pass House Bill 366, which would have banned trapping on public land in the state.

The current recovery plan relies solely on cross-fostering wolf pups into wild dens. Evidence suggests that this strategy alone is insufficient to effectively increase genetic diversity. Due to political pressure, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not plan to release any adult wolves into the wild. The best available science suggests that releasing well-bonded adult pairs with pups is the most effective way to increase genetic diversity and speed recovery efforts.

“We desperately need to release more Mexican wolves from the captive population into the wild to both increase numbers on the ground and allow essential genes to contribute to the wild population,” said Kelly Nokes, a wildlife attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. “This critically imperiled species is relying on us to bring them back from the brink of extinction.”

BACKGROUND:

The lobo, or Mexican wolf, is the smallest, most genetically distinct, and one of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to implement scientifically recommended recovery actions.

Although lobos once widely roamed across the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican wolf was purposefully eradicated from the U.S. on behalf of American livestock, hunting, and trapping interests. Recognizing the Mexican gray wolf’s extreme risk of extinction, the Service listed it on the federal endangered species list in 1976.

In 1998, after the few remaining wolves were put into captivity in an attempt to save the species, the Service released 11 Mexican wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico now known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The program has limped along ever since, with illegal killings and sanctioned removals subverting recovery.

Mexican wolves are at tremendous risk due to their small population size, limited gene pool, threats from trapping, Wildlife Services’ activities, and illegal killings.

Can wildlife survive the Wall?

Some timely info about the Border Wall’s impact on wildlife from Defenders.org:

Donate Now

 

Trump’s wall would seal off critical migration corridors and slice through essential habitat – fragmenting populations and isolating animals from each other and from resources that are critically important to their survival. In addition,

  • At least 89 endangered or threatened species and 108 migratory bird species will come under immediate threat from wall construction;
  • Recovery of two critically endangered species that regularly cross the border – jaguars and Mexican gray wolves – will be in serious jeopardy;
  • Migratory bird habitat will be destroyed and some species like the ferruginous pygmy owl – will be unable to fly across what could be 30-foot barriers; and
  • Pristine wildlife refuges and conservation lands, including the Lower Rio Grande and Buenos Aires national wildlife refuges and the Otay Mountain Wilderness, will be permanently marred as whole sections are destroyed and walled off forever.

On top of it all, the Trump administration could exempt the border wall’s construction from ever having to comply with environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act.

Building a massive, impenetrable barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border would wreak havoc on wildlife, critical habitat and communities. For many species, it would be the end of the road.

Wildlife Organizations Sue Trump Administration for Failing to Protect “El Lobo,” the Mexican Wolf

JOHN SCHLOSSBERG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Lobo 0131wrp opt(Photo: Joel Cristian / Flickr)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 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.

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.

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/wildlife-organizations-sue-trump-administration-for-failing-to-protect-el-lobo-the-mexican-wolf

Endangered Mexican Wolf Killed Following Livestock Attacks

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/2017-09-15/endangered-mexican-wolf-killed-following-livestock-attacks

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.

Sept. 15, 2017 

[ To be more accurate, this headline should have read: “Endangered Mexican Wolf (one of fewer than 50 in the wild)  Killed Following Livestock (introduced and bred by the thousands and slaughtered within a few years of birth, for human consumption) Attacks (read: predation–sorry, but it’s what wolves do and have always done).”]

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 ArizonaNew 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.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-04-24/wolf-pup-born-in-missouri-offers-hope-for-endangered-breed

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.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed
The Associated Press

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, holds a Mexican wolf born April 2 at the facility Monday, April 24, 2017, in Eureka, Mo. The wolf was conceived by artificial insemination which is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species by using sperm that had been frozen. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

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.

Release ‘Guardian the Wolf’ Back Into the Wild

https://animalpetitions.org/235639/release-guardian-the-wolf-back-into-the-wild/

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.

PETITION LETTER:

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.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

https://animalpetitions.org/235639/release-guardian-the-wolf-back-into-the-wild/

Mexican gray wolf population bounces back in Southwest

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/02/17/mexican-gray-wolf-population-bounces-back-southwest/98078884/

PHOENIX — Endangered Mexican gray wolves rebounded from a deadly 2015 to reach a population of 113 in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico last year, the most since the species returned to the wild almost 20 years ago, federal and state biologists announced Friday.

The population of wolves, first reintroduced from captive breeding into the two states in 1998, had grown by fits and starts to 110 two years ago before dropping back to 97 at the end of 2015. Unsolved illegal shootings contributed to the losses, and officials said that year also saw lower pup survival.

Last year was different, according to winter ground and aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partner wildlife agencies in the two states. Fifty wild-born pups survived the year, compared with just 23 in 2015.

At least 63 wolves roamed the forests of eastern Arizona as of January, the agencies reported.

“We are encouraged by these numbers, but these 2016 results demonstrate we are still not out of the woods with this experimental population,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said in a news release.

The year’s positive numbers didn’t sway wolf advocates, who say the population needs a major infusion of new blood with new releases of captive wolves.

Arizona has favored placing captive-born pups with wild packs in the state lately, instead of releasing pairs to form new packs. The tactic remains risky, Robinson said, as the annual census shows only three of six wolves fostered in this manner apparently survived last year.

New Mexico, meanwhile, has secured a court injunction barring new releases into that state for the time being.

Both states face pressure from ranchers and deer and elk hunters to limit potential wolf predations.

“New Mexico is paving a path that could lead to Mexican gray wolf extinction,” said Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Releases are crucial to increase lobo numbers and improve their genetic diversity in the wild.

“We need more wolves and less politics.”

Arizona expects the survival of wild-born pups to help sustain last year’s growth rate, said Jim deVos, assistant director of wildlife management for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The Mexican wolf is the rarest of gray wolf subspecies and is somewhat smaller than its northern cousins. It was hunted into near extinction with U.S. government help in the past century before a captive breeding program began with the last seven survivors in the 1970s.

Mexico also has re-established a small population.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long struggled to produce a recovery plan that would lay out a population goal and the means to get there, but it is due to release one this fall.