This year marks the 15th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation. However, there are approximately 75 Mexican gray wolves roaming the wilds of the Southwest, and their further recovery faces critical challenges. Mexican gray wolf recovery has already been hampered by rules that severely limit the project's ability to recover the species. Illegal hunting, and at times, excessive removals have also contributed to the lobo's slow recovery.
In June 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced plans to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across nearly the entire lower-48 states. The proposal includes changes for the Mexican gray wolf recovery project.
The good news is that the proposed revision to the existing 'nonessential experimental population' designation of the Mexican wolf under the Endangered Species Act would allow Mexican wolves to be reclassified as an 'endangered subspecies' that may be released directly and dispersed into wider areas in Arizona and New Mexico. This change has been recommended by experts for over 10 years and can be made faster and with less bureaucratic delay than any other part of the proposed rule.
However, by identifying all of the wild wolves as "nonessential," the USFWS ignores science and the reality of 15 years of experience with reintroducing wolves. At present, approximately 75 wolves in the wild have up to four generations of experience in establishing packs and raising pups and are over 22% of all of the Mexican wolves in the world. After four more generations of captive breeding with few releases (only one in the last five years), scientists warn that there may be serious genetic problems making captive wolves less able to thrive in the wild. The fourth generation of wild lobos is not expendable and is an essential part of recovering this unique subspecies.
When USFWS published the current rule in 1998 they said they expected to put out a new recovery plan for the public to comment on later that year; 15 years later, there still is no scientific or legally adequate recovery plan! The new proposed rule puts the cart before the horse and should come with or after - not before - an updated recovery plan. It continues to emphasize a woefully inadequate population of only 100 wolves in the wild.
This year, we invite you to join us for an educational weekend learning about and celebrating the return of Mexican wolves to the wild during the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project's Big Lake Howliday Campout Weekend and second Annual Paseo del Lobo.
Activities include wildlife and wolf tracking workshops with wildlife tracking experts, a hike to the "Green Fire" site where Aldo Leopold had his epiphany about wolves, hikes on the Paseo del Lobo trail and evening talks by a wildlife biologist who was at the first release in 1998, wolf activists and conservationists from the U.S. and Mexico, and an informal talk by Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center, Maggie Howell, who manages one of the captive breeding facilities for Mexican wolves.
You can help support
lobo awareness campaigns!
To help support the Paseo del Lobo event, Wolfwatcher has pledged 100% of all proceeds from the sale of our 15th Anniversary Lobo T-shirt designed exclusively by our own C.D. Cross. If you cannot join us in Arizona, you can still help spread some much needed awareness about the Mexican gray wolf and support efforts already underway in the region right from your own neck of the woods.
Thank you for your consideration.