On June 7, 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially announced proposals that will impact the future of America’s gray wolves.
Nationwide Delisting Proposal
USFWS’s proposes to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology voiced their concern that the delsiting rule is terribly premature in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on May 21st. They argued that the delisting rule flouts “the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
USFWS is gauging gray wolf recovery solely on the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes wolf populations. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), USFWS is obligated to recover endangered species across a “significant portion” of their historic range. In recent years, there have been several reports of wolves from Canada crossing the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway into Maine, wolves traveling miles south into the southern Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado, and accounts wolf OR-7, becoming a media sensation when as California’s first wolf in over 80 years. By stripping federal protections from wolves nationwide, these pioneers on the West Coast and in historically occupied areas like the southern Rockies and Northeast, may never be able to establish a viable populations despite suitable habitat and availability of prey.The ESA let our country give wolves a second chance. With second chances so hard to come by, should we be willing to throw them away? USFWS offers us three chances to voice our opposition in person. Please scroll down for details.
Proposed Rules for Mexican Wolf Reintroduction & Recovery
Although critically endangered Mexican wolves are exempt from this nationwide delisting proposal, they will be subject to other provisions that are very problematic – including the recovery area’s artificial boundaries and their re-designation as an “experimental, nonessential” population.
USFWS’s own Mexican wolf science team emphasize that the Mexican gray wolf’s long-term survival requires connected habitats north of the expanded recovery zone including the Grand Canyon region and portions of southern Utah and Colorado. But under the proposed rule, any wolf that disperses to these areas will be recaptured by USFWS and then moved whether territories are established or not. Capturing and moving wolves is always very risky, Mexican wolves too often die during routine USFWS management activities.
USFWS designates all wild Mexican gray wolves an “experimental, nonessential” population. This designation suggests that if all wild Mexican wolves are killed, this would not negatively impact recovery because wild wolf genes were well represented in captivity.
But scientists warn that prolonged captivity can cause genetic, physical, or behavioral changes. Captive Mexican wolves are bred annually, so the number of generations in captivity is growing. This coupled with infrequent captive-to-wild release events is expected to cause adverse effects on the genetic integrity of the captive population that may result in suppressed litter size, reduced pup survival, and lower success in breeding. So what scientists are discovering is that recovery cannot exist in captivity alone.
Limited Opportunities to Comment in Person
We have only one opportunity to comment in person about Mexican gray wolves and three chances to voice opposition to the nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal. Now is your time to literally #StandForWolves and comment in person to safeguard the future of our Nation’s most misunderstood predator.
USFWS’s Public Hearings Schedule
- September 30 – 6PM-8:30PM- Washington, DC – at the Department of the Interior Auditorium (1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC)
- October 2 – 6-8:30PM – Sacramento, CA - at the Clarion Inn (Martinique Ball Room, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA)
- October 4 – 6-9PM – Albuquerque, NM – at the Embassy Suites Hotel (10004 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, NM) - This hearing offers the only opportunity to comment on Mexican wolves!
The Wolf Conservation Center will be attending the hearings in Washington, DC and Albuquerque, NM, and we hope we can meet you there! For those unable to attend any of the hearings, please #StandForWolves and comment online today!