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Editorial: Lack of a wolf plan should have U.S. howling mad

“In many respects, the primary underlying impediment to Mexican gray wolf recovery has been, and continues to be, the lack of a (comprehensive recovery) plan.”

– Lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife

This summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to make its fourth attempt at finally updating the 1982 Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. Thirty-nine years after the wolf was listed as endangered, 33 years after a recovery program was roughed out, and 110 inbred wolves later, it’s about time.

The original goal of 100 wild wolves from a breeding group of seven is now a population objective of 300 to 325 wolves in the wild, preferably from a more diverse/less compromised gene pool – and that’s apparently not the final recovery goal.

The public that has spent millions of dollars on the program – that includes foes of wolf re-introduction, as well as supporters – deserves to know what that final goal is.

According to a 2014 lawsuit against Fish and Wildlife by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center, David R. Parsons and the Wolf Conservation Center, “the absence of a legitimate agency blueprint for Mexican gray wolf recovery underlies the ongoing challenges facing the subspecies’ recovery program. Accordingly, those challenges could be resolved through the production and implementation of a scientifically based and legally valid recovery plan to guide and drive Mexican gray wolf management decisions, such as scheduled releases to promote genetic diversity, necessary limitations on wolf removals by FWS and the public, and delineation of appropriate geographic areas to facilitate wolf recovery.” Arizona filed a similar lawsuit.

Because the federal government’s end game is to build up the population of Mexican gray wolves to the point where species management could be turned over to the states, four needs to be the charm on finally delivering a comprehensive federal recovery program. That’s the only way to ever be able to measure if this program can be sustainable and thus successful.

For the sake of the wolves and the public’s coffers.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.