13 November 2015
This week, Defenders and our conservation partners took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court for its failure to protect the world’s only wild population of red wolves, and for its illegal actions including authorizing the killing of a breeding female red wolf in a population of only 50-75 red wolves in the wild. The most significant threat red wolves face in the wild is from being shot when mistaken for coyotes. Red wolves are also threatened by other factors such as loss of habitat and interbreeding with coyotes. This species needs help on the federal, state and local levels to ensure its continued survival. In the words of Jason Rylander, our senior attorney on the case: “The red wolf is in grave danger of extinction, and if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t step up and significantly modify its management approach for red wolves, we may never see this species in the wild again. This species can’t afford to wait another minute. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to take serious action and work with state and local governments to ensure the red wolf doesn’t slip away.” We’ll keep you updated here as this case moves forward.
Oregon Wolves Removed From State Endangered Species Act
On Monday, Oregon wildlife officials removed wolves from the state’s list of protected species. We are deeply disappointed by this decision, which was incredibly premature. No other species has been removed from the state endangered species act with a population of fewer than 100. And although this is certainly a blow to continued wolf recovery in Oregon, we’re not about to give up. Defenders is expanding our presence in Oregon and we’ll continue to work with Oregon’s officials to strengthen and update the guidelines for managing wolves in the state. Oregon can continue its role in the success story that is the recovery of the wolf in the American west, but to keep this success story going, Oregon will need appropriate guidelines in place to allow wolves to continue to recover.
Morning Chat on Lobos
Earlier this month, Senior Southwest Representative Craig Miller had an interview with radio talk show host, Richard Eeds, on KVSF not only to promote a Defenders fence-building event in New Mexico (to help prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock), but also to talk about how those in the Southwest can coexist with Mexican gray wolves. In conjunction with the reintroduction of wolves in the Southwest, Defenders initiated a regional coexistence program focused on conflict prevention. We work closely with ranchers, federal, state and tribal agency biologists and resource managers, researchers and community and conservation groups to implement and cost-share nonlethal wolf deterrents and best management practices for livestock in wolf country, and our recent fence building event is a great example of our ongoing coexistence work in the region.
While Miller noted that wolves account for less than one percent of livestock mortality in New Mexico, he understands the plight of small ranchers for whom any loss is financially significant.
Today, there are 110 of these endangered wolves roaming the wild in the Southwest. To ensure the species recovers and thrives, there need to be more many more releases from captivity to overcome the limited genetic diversity of the wild population. As we welcome more wolves to the wild, it will be all the more important to find on-the-ground solutions for ranchers in the region to avoid conflict.