Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

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

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch