Arizona Commission Backs Mexican Gray Wolf Delisting
March 20, 2013 – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted to support a letter written by Senators Hatch (R-Utah) and Lummis(R-Wyo), a decision that will prove devastating for the recovery of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). In a unanimous decision, the commission voted to back an effort by Western lawmakers to strip federal protections for gray wolves nationwide. This would include the Mexican gray wolf, the rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. How this commission decided that this critically endangered species does not warrant protection boggles my mind. There are only 30+ wild wolves roaming the landscape of Arizona, hardly a robust population. The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, has met countless unnatural challenges since their reintroduction, politics proving the most formidable.
At first I thought the timing of this decision was really unfortunate. You see on March 29, 1998, 15 years ago next week, 11 captive-reared lobos were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. In recognition of this anniversary, organizations, zoos, individuals, and businesses are joining the #LoboWeek movement. It’s a unique effort aiming to harness the collective power of a wild group of partners to celebrate the return of wolves to their ancestral home in the wild of the southwest with educational incentives, fun facts, contest, events, and more. As a #LoboWeek partner, the Wolf Conservation Center still aims to educate and celebrate an important milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation, but I believe the movement will also become an attempt to expand our educational reach with the effort to empower our supporters with the understanding of their ability to force change. Stay tuned, #LoboWeek begins March 23rd.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or “lobo,” is the smallest, southernmost occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Aggressive predator control programs at the turn of the century all but exterminated the Mexican wolf from the wild. With the capture of the last 7 remaining wild Mexican wolves approximately 30 years ago, a captive breeding program was initiated helping to save the Mexican wolf from extinction. Today, the captive population consists of over 300 animals, and encompasses close to 50 zoos and wildlife facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.