Thursday, August 6, 2015

Biologist to discuss Mexican gray wolves

Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 
In 2014 a litter of Mexican gray wolves was born in the Chihuahua region of northern Mexico. They were the first pups of their kind born in the wild in almost 40 years.
Carlos Lopez Gonzalez has been working on the recovery and restoration of the wolf pack since 2006. He will share his experiences in the field at the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative’s annual talk Tuesday. The free presentation begins at 7 p.m. in Hansen Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Gonzalez “really has quite a story to tell if you think about it,” administrative director Maggie Schilling said. “All the history and controversy in Yellowstone ... imagine trying to repeat that in a working community in rural Mexico.”
Yellowstone and northern Mexico are alike in their relationships to native wolf populations, Schilling said. They are in rural areas. Wolves in Wyoming and Mexico face resistance from local ranchers. Communities in both areas have a lot to learn about “co-existing with these large predators,” Schilling said.
The Mexican region Gonzales works with, however, faces a new obstacle: Unlike Yellowstone, it is not protected.
He said wolves are the most difficult species he has worked to restore. “I have worked with cougars, jaguars and bears for the past 20 years,” Gonzalez wrote in an email from the field to the News&Guide. “None of those species is as challenging as working with wolves.”
People, Gonzalez said, are the biggest obstacle. “The conservation community is thrilled,” he said. “The ranching community is concerned. We are trying to work as closely as possible with the ranching community to find some common ground between restoring this species and the likely impacts it may have on livestock producers.”
The pack Gonzalez works with was released into the wild in 2012. The 2014 litter was the first successful one. There are currently 13 wolves, he said. Eleven of them were born in the wild.
His work, he said, is important to “restoring the ecosystem, completing what was once there. It’s about restoring the wolves in a landscape that lost them almost 40 years ago.”
Gonzalez is a professor at the Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro, Mexico. In addition to his work with wolves he is on the Jaguar Recovery team working in Mexico and the U.S.