Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Update
By Dave Parsons, TRI Carnivore Conservation Biologist
A year ago, in our Healing Nature’s Wounds Campaign, we listed science-based upgrades to Mexican gray wolf recovery and management as our third priority. Below is the plank from the original HNW Campaign:
- Science must inform the recovery of the critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolf. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is revising its 2015 Mexican gray wolf management rule, which a Federal court found does not rely on the best available science and violates the Endangered Species Act by failing to conserve the endangered Mexican wolf. In response to the USFWS’s request for public input, 87,000 comments were submitted, with most requesting that the agency follow the court order and base the revised management rule on independent academic science rather than political pressure. A science-based management rule will designate Mexican wolves as essential, lead to a distribution and population size that achieves ecological effectiveness, ameliorate the crisis of declining genetic diversity, and require measurable standards for assuring progress toward recovery benchmarks. Further, a new rule should prescribe the release of bonded wolf families into the wild, taking into consideration the highly social nature of wolves. Finally, a new rule must limit human-caused mortality and include firm requirements to prevent conflicts with livestock and to support non-lethal resolution of conflicts. We urge the incoming administration to revise the proposed rule based on the best available science, ensuring the long-term recovery of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest.
Update – February 1, 2022.
The comment period on the USFWS’s proposed revised Mexican wolf management rule ended on January 27, 2022. As a reminder, the Judge ruled that the original 2015 rule was not based on the best available science, would not further the conservation of Mexican wolves, and was inappropriately linked to a non-binding, discretionary recovery plan which calls for nearly a third of the necessary recovery to occur in Mexico.
Remarkably, the proposed revision is not substantially changed from the 2015 rule and fails to adequately address issues raised in the 2018 Court Order. Mexican gray wolves will remain at risk of extinction under the proposed rule. Collaborating with Project Coyote, we submitted extensive comments and recommendations for bringing the rule into compliance with the court order and rendering it science-based and sufficient to ensure recovery and long-term sustainability of the Lobos of the Southwest. (See in full here: Final Comments on Revision to the MW 10(j) Rule.)
Learn more about The Saga of the Mexican Gray Wolf (el Lobo).
David Parsons received his Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University and his Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University. Dave is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where from 1990-1999 he led the USFWS’s effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest.
Dave’s interests include the ecology and conservation of large carnivores, protection and conservation of biodiversity, and wildlands conservation at scales that fully support ecological and evolutionary processes. He is the Carnivore Conservation Biologist for The Rewilding Institute, a member of the Science Advisory Board of Project Coyote, a former member and chairman of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and a former graduate advisor in the Environmental Studies master’s degree program at Prescott College. Dave serves as a science and policy advisor for organizations and coalitions advocating for wolf recovery and landscape-scale conservation in the Southwest.
In 2001, Dave received the New Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s annual “Professional Award.” In 2007 at the North American Wolf Conference, Dave received the “Alpha Award” for his “outstanding professional achievement and leadership toward the recovery of Mexican wolves.” In 2008 he received the “Outstanding Conservation Leadership Award” from the Wilburforce Foundation and the “Mike Seidman Memorial Award” from the Sky Island Alliance for his conservation achievements.
Dave enjoys wildlife viewing, wilderness adventures, and dancing. He lives in Albuquerque, NM, with his wife, Noralyn.