Advocates for the endangered Mexican gray wolf filed a motion this week on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intervening in a lawsuit brought by New Mexico against the federal agency.
New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish sued the federal agency for releasing two wolf pups in Catron County in April, part of the ongoing effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves into the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.
Game and Fish has been adamantly opposed to the reintroduction program in recent years, citing concerns about how the program has been managed.
In filing its suit, the state wants to block any more wolf reintroductions until the federal agency develops a species management plan – due in 2017 after years of failed attempts to produce one – and remove the two pups from the wild.
“Should the State of New Mexico prevail in this litigation, the Conservation Groups’ interests in ensuring the survival and recovery of the Mexican gray wolf will be harmed,” according to the motion.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, “Removing these pups would be cruel and would contribute to an ongoing decline in wolf numbers and genetic diversity.”
There were 97 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona at the last federal count in early 2016, down from 110 wolves the prior year. Forty-seven of the wolves were found in New Mexico, largely in the Gila National Forest.
The groups that filed the motion include the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.