Feds intend to fix inbreeding but enviro groups call plan inadequate
In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The population reached 100 in 2015, but administrative missteps, poaching, removal of livestock-killing wolves, and New Mexico’s ban on further releases caused severe inbreeding (“Line of descent,” HCN, 8/8/16). In 2016, Fish and Wildlife proposed more reintroductions, but the state balked, claiming the required federal recovery plan was incomplete.
In early December, the wildlife agency finalized a $178 million recovery plan designed to increase wolf numbers to about 320 in Arizona and New Mexico, plus 200 in northern Mexico, improving genetic diversity so wolves can be delisted. Environmental groups, arguing that the states’ demands are trumping sound science, support the 2012 goal of 750 in the U.S. Biologist David Parsons, the first recovery coordinator, told the Arizona Daily Star that the new plan “is more likely to cause the second extinction of Mexican gray wolves in the wild than to secure their recovery.”