Mexican gray wolf, © Wolf Conservation Center
Defenders of Wildlife and our conservation partners in the Southwest filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court yesterday to defend against the state of New Mexico’s attempt to block the release of Mexican gray wolf adults and pups into the wild.
In May, New Mexico sued the Service for releasing wolf pups, which are critical to Mexican gray wolf recovery. The state even went so far as to file for a temporary restraining order against the release of more pups, and to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove pups already released. But the Endangered Species Act makes it unequivocally clear: The Service is the agency responsible for the recovery of our endangered species. If the states try to bar the Service from doing its job, the agency can take matters into its own hands in the name of endangered species protection and recovery.

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New Mexico’s lawsuit aims to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recapture the released pups and return them to captivity, as well to ban future releases of pups and adult wolves. New Mexico doesn’t have a legal or scientific leg to stand on. It is politics – puppy politics – pure and simple. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to do its job by releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild. In fact, without more wolves in the wild, we could see these unique southwestern wolves go extinct in our lifetime. Wolf releases into the wild are a key part of Mexican gray wolf recovery, and critical to improve the wolves’ genetic diversity and chances at survival.
For the wolves to survive and for our Southwestern ecosystems to thrive, we need more wolves and less politics in New Mexico. Extinction is forever, and we owe it to our kids and grandkids to save the Mexican gray wolf.