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Victory For Wolves In New Mexico

Victory For Wolves In New Mexico

Endangered Lobos Permitted to Recover

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing critically imperiled Mexican wolves into New Mexico.

With fewer than 113 Mexican wolves roaming the wild at last count, the government needs to release endangered wolves in order to foster the eventual recovery of the species across their native Southwest habitat.

Yet despite the species’ imperiled status, the State of New Mexico sued the federal government in May 2016 to block the release of Mexican wolves into the state. This latest decision allows necessary recovery efforts to continue unhampered by the State’s refusal to provide state permits to the federal agency to release captive-bred wolves in accordance with their duties under the Endangered Species Act.

Driven to near extinction by the 1970s, the Mexican wolf is one of North America’s rarest mammals, receiving federal Endangered Species Act protections in 1976. The entire wild lobo population is comprised of descendants of the last seven Mexican wolves, which were taken into captivity in the 1990s to form the base for recovery efforts.

Last year was a record-breaking year for Mexican wolf deaths, with 13 killed. Facing threats from illegal killing, politically-based habitat restrictions and an ongoing genetic crisis, releasing additional Mexican wolves from the captive-bred population is critical to ensuring the species recovers.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.