Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program Three-Year Review.
Workshop: Final Report. 127 Seiten.
IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southernmost occurring, rarest, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. It once occurred in the mountainous regions of the Southwest from central Mexico throughout portions of southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Aggressive predator control programs nearly eliminated the Mexican wolf or ìloboî as it is referred to in Spanish. In 1980 a captive-breeding program began that saved the Mexican wolf from extinction. Management of the captive population became part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Species Survival Plan program in 1994. The captive population currently numbers about 200 animals, which are managed by over 40 zoos and wildlife sanctuaries throughout the United States and Mexico.
Recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf began when it was listed as endangered in 1976. The current Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, approved in 1982 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Direccion General de la Fauna Silvestre in Mexico, calls for maintenance of a captive population and re-establishment of a wild population of at least 100 wolves over 5,000 square miles of historic range. In March 1997, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a plan to restore Mexican wolves to a portion of its historic range in Arizona and New Mexico. The final environmental impact statement was completed in December 1996 after 14 public meetings, three formal public hearings, and analysis of over 18,000 comments from other agencies, organizations, and citizens.
In March 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and its cooperators at that time, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and USDA Wildlife Services, released three family groups consisting of 11 Mexican wolves into the ìprimary recovery zoneî on public lands in Arizona. Wolves have been released each year following this and current plans are to continue releases through 2002 or until natural reproduction sustains the population. Currently, reintroduced wolves are allowed to disperse into the secondary recovery zone in Arizona and New Mexico or be translocated there from the primary recovery zone if captured for management purposes. The two zones together constitute what is currently called the ìBlue Range Wolf Recovery Areaî (Figure 1, page 10).
Released wolves and their progeny have been designated as a ìnonessential and experimentalî population under a special provision of the Endangered Species Act. This designation allows for more flexible management of wolves. Under this designation the Service writes a special regulation, or management rule, which specifies management guidelines for the wolf population. For example, the current management rule allows for the taking of wolves under certain circumstances when they are in the act of killing livestock. Also, wolves are currently not allowed to establish territories outside recovery area boundaries, unless private landowners or tribal governments approve it. If this permission is not granted or if wolves disperse onto public land outside the recovery area, under the current rule such wolves must be recaptured and relocated back to the recovery area or returned to captivity. Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program Three-Year Review Workshop
As of August 2001, there are approximately 35 wolves living in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. These wolves have begun to pair on their own, are killing natural prey like elk and deer, and have begun to reproduce in the wild. There have been 14 substantiated reports of livestock damage due to wolves and the Defenders of Wildlifeís Wolf Compensation Trust Fund has reimbursed the ranchers involved.