The Rewilding Institute and Project Coyote post comments to support full Mexican wolf recovery
Featured image: Mexican gray wolf © Robin Silver
The Rewilding Institute and Project Coyote post official comments, endorsed by more than 100 scientists, asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow the law and the best science in revising management rules for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolves.
Time is short! Comments must be received by June 15 but can still be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. The document ID that will get to the right place for comments is FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007-0001.
- Mexican wolves need greater protection to improve their genetic health and increase the likelihood of their recovery.
- More wolves from the genetically more diverse captive population need to be released into the wild. The genetic health of the wild population is steadily declining by every measure. The inbreeding coefficient is increasing, and genetic diversity is decreasing. If this trend continues, it will likely lead to the extinction of the Mexican wolf. In addition to cross-fostering captive pups into wild dens, the USFWS needs to release more well-bonded captive adult pairs with pups, which can yield more immediate genetic health improvements.
- The wild population’s classification under the Endangered Species Act must be changed from a “nonessential” experimental population to an “essential” population.
Twenty-two years following the initial release of 11 wolves, the expanded population of 163 animals is undeniably essential to the Mexican wolf’s recovery and long-term survival in the wild. The change to essential status is supported by the best available science and the legal requirements of the Endangered Species Act. It offers much-needed greater protection for the wild population.
- The revised rule needs to provide for more wolves in more places to ensure their recovery.Independent scientists have determined that at least three populations totaling at least 750 wolves must be established in the U.S. Southwest to ensure their long-term survival and recovery. The current cap of 325 wolves in the U.S. population must be removed.
- The Court has ruled that the revised rule must further the recovery of Mexican wolves in the U.S. Southwest. The current rule prohibits wild Mexican wolves from dispersing north of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico. This politically motivated restriction is the result of opposition to meaningful wolf recovery by the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Independent scientists have identified two significant regions with suitable wolf habitat north of Interstate 40, both of which are critically important to the recovery of Mexican wolves in the U.S. Southwest: the Grand Canyon ecoregion in northern Arizona and southern Utah, and the Southern Rocky Mountain ecoregion in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
- The revised rule should remove all barriers to the movement of Mexican wolves and all limits to the size of their populations. The wolves know better than government agencies the best places to live and can limit their numbers to fit the capacity of the ecosystem supporting them. When allowed to establish their natural population densities, wolves tend to improve the health and biodiversity of their ecosystems. In other words, they are essential to maintaining the balance of nature.
- The revised rule must include provisions to reduce wolf removals and promote non-lethal methods for addressing conflicts.The current rule allows too many opportunities for livestock owners and agency managers to kill or remove wolves to address perceived conflicts between wolves and human activities on public lands. The new rule should require the use of non-lethal methods to resolve human-wolf conflicts. Permanent removal of a wolf should only follow the documented implementation of all feasible non-lethal methods.
- Trapping should be prohibited on all public lands within the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area. Since Mexican wolves were first released to their native habitats, 50 wolves have been caught in private traps, resulting in multiple deaths, limb amputations, and other injuries. Most wild Mexican wolves occupy public lands. These are only the known incidents of wolves being trapped, but there are undoubtedly many more unknown trapping incidents and undocumented wolf deaths.
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.