Quantcast

New Trump Administration Plan for Mexican Gray Wolves Puts the 'Lobo' on Path to Extinction

Animals
Don Burkett

The Trump administration released on Wednesday its long-overdue recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves, one of the most endangered mammal species in North America with an estimated wild population of just over 100. However, the plan charts a course for extinction rather than recovery, cutting off wolf access to vital recovery habitat and failing to respond to mounting genetic threats to the species.

"It's a 'recovery plan' in name only. Without additional habitat and greater genetic diversity, the wolves will continue to teeter on the brink of extinction. The plan provides none of these essential needs," said Heidi McIntosh, an attorney with the nonprofit environmental legal organization, Earthjustice, which sued the federal government on behalf of conservation organizations.


The Trump administration refused to listen to the tens of thousands of people who asked them to fix their awful draft plan before finalizing it. Among the people who weighed in asking for stronger protections for the wolves were concerned citizens, business owners and scientists.

"Lobos waited decades for a plan to save them, only to be given one that does not guarantee recovery," said Bryan Bird, Southwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had the opportunity to build a plan on a foundation of science and conservation, but instead decided to let politics rule."

"Instead of moving forward with a plan based on legitimate, science-based recommendations, the Service collaborated exclusively with the very states that have gone to extraordinary lengths to obstruct Mexican wolf recovery," said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center. "Critically endangered lobos deserve better."

"The Fish and Wildlife Service published over 250 pages of supporting 'scientific' justification, used a sophisticated model to predict extinction probabilities, then tossed the science aside and asked the states how many wolves they would tolerate with no scientific justification whatsoever," said David Parsons, former Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. "Using the states' arbitrary upper limit as a population cap in the population viability model and forcing additional recovery needs to Mexico, the plan will guarantee that from now to eternity no more than a running average of 325 Mexican wolves will ever be allowed to exist in the entire U.S. Southwest. This plan is a disgraceful sham."

The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon area.

"This isn't a recovery plan, it's a blueprint for disaster for Mexican gray wolves," said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Limiting recovery to south of Interstate 40 keeps wolves out of the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountains, areas that would greatly benefit from having wolves back and that scientists have determined are absolutely essential to their recovery."

The recovery plan just released by the Trump administration ignores the science and falls short in several key and interrelated ways:

  • Fails to establish the additional population centers and limits wolves to inadequate habitat with low recovery potential;
  • Does not provide for sufficient releases of wolves into the wild;
  • Fails to ensure conservation and enhancement of genetic diversity to ameliorate inbreeding;
  • Relies excessively on Mexico for recovery, where habitat is unpromising.

"It is critical for the health of the Mexican wolf population to obtain a sound, scientifically reviewed and based recovery plan. Politics should not play a role in management of an endangered species," said Virginia Busch, executive director of the Endangered Wolf Center.

The critically endangered Mexican gray wolf almost vanished from the face of the earth in the mid-20th century because of human persecution. The entire population of Mexican wolves alive today descends from just seven individuals that were captured and placed into a captive breeding program before the species was exterminated from the wild.

In 2014, Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to develop a recovery plan.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Europe is bracing for a second heat wave in less than a month. TropicalTidbits.com

Europe is gearing up for another extreme heat wave that could set all-time records for several European countries.

Read More Show Less
Modern agricultural greenhouses in the Netherlands use LED lights to support plant growth. GAPS / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Kevin M. Folta

A nighttime arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport flies you over the bright pink glow of vegetable production greenhouses. Growing crops under artificial light is gaining momentum, particularly in regions where produce prices can be high during seasons when sunlight is sparse.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
On Oct. 4, 2017, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing on Wehrum's nomination. EPA / YouTube screenshot

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) former head of the Office of Air and Radiation who was instrumental in drafting policies that eased climate protection rules and pollution standards is under investigation by a federal watchdog for his dealings with the fossil fuel industry he was supposed to be regulating, according to the New York Times.

Read More Show Less

It's no secret that the Trump administration has championed fossil fuels and scoffed at renewable energy. But the Trump administration is trying to keep something secret: the climate crisis. That's according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) who found that more than a quarter of the references to climate change on .gov websites vanished.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

New York is officially the first state in the union to ban cat declawing.

Read More Show Less
People walk in the Shaw neighborhood on July 20 in Washington, DC, where an excessive heat warning was in effect according to the NWS. Alex Wroblewski / Getty Images

By Adrienne Hollis

Climate change is a threat multiplier. This is a fact I know to be true. I also know that our most vulnerable populations, particularly environmental justice communities — people of color and/or low socioeconomic status — are suffering and will continue to suffer first and worst from the adverse effects of climate change. Case in point? Extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Anne Danahy, MS, RDN

Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).

Read More Show Less