The Arizona Game and Fish Department today served a Notice of Intent with the secretary of the Department of Interior and director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The action was taken in an effort to support development of an updated recovery plan for Mexican wolves that utilizes the best available science as legally required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Game and Fish has requested an updated recovery plan from the Service on multiple occasions over the past several
years because the current recovery plan for Mexican wolves developed in 1982 is so outdated that it no longer provides an adequate framework to guide the recovery effort. That plan also fails to identify the recovery criteria required by the ESA including downlisting and delisting criteria.
“This Notice of Intent is an effort to ensure that the Fish and Wildlife Service adheres to its legal obligation to develop a thorough science-based plan that will lead to a successful recovery outcome that recognizes Mexico as pivotal to achieving recovery of the Mexican wolf given that 90 percent of its historical range is there,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles.
Bi-national recovery plans for endangered species have been successfully established with Mexico for other species including Sonoran pronghorn, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and, most recently, thick-billed parrots. The department asserts that to succeed, Mexican wolf recovery must include an integrated, bi-national approach that incorporates the recovery work already underway in Mexico.
“I fully support today’s action and I look forward to working with the department to develop a legal and sound plan for the recovery of the Mexican wolf,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
The Service is currently in litigation with several parties that are pushing for reestablishment of Mexican wolves in areas that are not part of the subspecies’ historical range and requesting a resolution in an unreasonable timeframe. These groups are basing their litigation on a draft report developed by a Mexican Wolf Recovery Science and Planning Subgroup. The department completed extensive analysis of the subgroup’s recommendations and found the science used as a basis for the recommendations to be significantly flawed. This misguided approach could jeopardize genetic integrity of the subspecies if the Mexican wolf is permitted to reestablish in close proximity to Northern gray wolves.
Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior has 60 days to respond to the Notice of Intent. If the secretary fails to respond, the department will pursue civil action. A Notice of Intent is a required precursor to pursuing civil action.
Arizona Game and Fish’s involvement in Mexican wolf conservation began in the mid-1980s. Since that time, the department has spent more than $7 million on wolf recovery in the state and has been the predominant on-the-ground presence working to manage Mexican wolves.
For more information on Mexican wolves, visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf.
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