ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laid out its plan for the future of the endangered Mexican gray wolf on Thursday, which includes allowing the reintroduced wolves to roam a much larger area.
But an environmental group says the plan also makes it too easy for ranchers and state agencies to kill the wolves – a problem the group’s director says has long hindered the recovery effort in New Mexico and Arizona.
“We’re glad Mexican wolves will be allowed to roam more widely and will be introduced directly into New Mexico,” said Michael Robinson with the Silver City-based Center for Biological Diversity. “But increasing the authority to kill wolves is disappointing and will further imperil them.”
Fish and Wildlife also released a draft environmental impact statement on its proposed revisions of the rules for managing the Mexican wolf population – which Robinson placed at about 83 wolves, including five breeding pairs.
In 1998, Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which covers part of New Mexico and Arizona.
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rules and DEIS, and two public meetings on the proposed rules will be held next month. Those meetings are scheduled for:
- Aug. 11, 6 to 9 p.m. at Fort Apache Indian Reservation’s Hon-Dah Conference Center, 777 Highway 260, Pinetop, Ariz.; and
- Aug. 13, 6 to 9 p.m. at the Truth or Consequences Civic Center, 400 W. Fourth Street in T or C.
The comment period will remain open through Sept. 23.
The Fish and Wildlife Service “is more committed than ever to working with diverse partners to promote a successful Mexican wolf program,” the service’s Southwest Regional Director, Ben Tuggle, said in a news release. “Over the last 16 years, we have learned much about managing a wild population of Mexican wolves, and it is clear that the current rule does not provide the clarity or the flexibility needed to effectively manage,” the wolf population.
To learn more about the proposed rule revisions, the draft environmental impact statement or details of the public hearings – and for links to submit comments to the record – visit fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf.