Two More Mexican Gray Wolves Released into the Wild: This week, wildlife biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released two captive Mexican gray wolves into the Arizona wild. The hope is that this pregnant female and her mate will contribute some much needed genetic diversity to this critically endangered population of wolves. Recovery efforts began in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998, after the species was pushed to near extinction in the 1970s. Today, thanks in part to the success of this captive breeding program, there are 109 wolves living in the wild in the Southwest. Defenders wants to see more wolves released into the wild to increase the genetic diversity – just like the Service did this week. Next, the Service needs to develop a detailed, long range plan for releasing many more wolves, and a science-based recovery plan, for which these rare wolves have waited almost 40 years.
Oregon Officials Consider Reducing Protection for Wolves: Today, the Oregon Wildlife Commission is hearing from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about the status of Oregon’s wolves. Under the state’s Wolf Management Plan, ODFW is required to present a biological status review of wolves to the Commission after the state has successfully maintained at least four breeding pairs for a period of three years in eastern Oregon, a benchmark that was passed earlier this year. Based on the information presented, the Commission will evaluate several policy options, including whether state Endangered Species Act protections are still warranted for the species. A final decision is not expected before August 2015.
Wolves are not fully recovered in Oregon and Defenders strongly believes that removing or weakening protections for wolves is premature. Oregon has a great deal of unoccupied wolf habitat and significant threats to the species remain. Losing protections would make it easier to kill wolves and reduce emphasis on proactive, nonlethal methods to reduce conflicts with livestock operations. Defenders’ staff will testify in front of the Commission, and are working to help ensure that it conducts a neutral and unbiased review of the information presented, and makes a decision for wolves that is based on the best available science, not on politics.