Archive for the ‘WildEarth Guardians’ Tag

Female wolf travels hundreds of miles to northern Arizona   1 comment

From:  Deseret News

By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 21 2014 7:49 p.m. MST

Updated: Friday, Nov. 21 2014 7:49 p.m. MST

Wildlife officials have confirmed the first gray wolf in northern Arizona in more than 70 years.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies traveled hundreds of miles into northern Arizona, marking the species’ first appearance in the region in more than 70 years and the farthest journey south, wildlife officials confirmed Friday.

A wolf-like animal had been spotted roaming the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the adjacent national forest since last month. Biologists collected its scat and sent it to a University of Idaho laboratory for testing, verifying what environmentalists had suspected based on its appearance and a radio collar around its neck.

“The corroboration is really good to get,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Biologists don’t know the wolf’s age or from where it traveled. The radio collar wasn’t transmitting a signal, and cold weather forced biologists to suspended efforts to capture the animal and replace the collar.

The Idaho lab might be able to glean more details about the wolf from its DNA, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey said that could take several weeks or months.

“We’ll let this wolf be a wolf where it’s at, and if it decides it’s going to move back north, it can do that,” he said. “Or if somebody joins her, then that’s nature taking its course.”

Wolves often roam vast distances in search of food and mates. But the farther they go, the less likely they are to find a mate, said Ed Bangs, who led recovery efforts for wolves in the Northern Rockies over two decades before retiring from the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.

“It’s looking for love,” he said. “It leaves the core population and doesn’t know the love of its life is going to be right over the next hill, so it just keeps traveling.”

About 25 percent of the roughly 1,700 wolves from the Northern Rockies are being tracked, wildlife officials said. They are distinguished from the Mexican gray wolves found in the Southwest by their more full bodies and less pointed ears.

Mike Jimenez with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming said Northern Rockies gray wolves are hard-wired to disperse and have traveled hundreds of miles. One young female started off in Montana and traveled 3,000 miles over six months, making stops in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado before it died, he said. Colorado had been the farthest journey south for the animals until the female was confirmed in Arizona, he said.

Wolves from another major population in the western Great Lakes have likewise been found far from home.

Wolves largely were exterminated early last century across the lower 48 states, except in the western Great Lakes area. The Northern Rockies population was restored after 66 gray wolves from Canada were relocated to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the mid-1990s.

They’ve been absent from the Grand Canyon region since the 1940s.

The Fish and Wildlife Service in recent years lifted federal protections for the animals in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies. A federal judge recently ordered the protections re-instated in Wyoming after wildlife advocates sued.

Environmentalists are pressing for continued protection of gray wolves. Meanwhile, they celebrated the news of the one in northern Arizona.

“I wonder if she has any sense of the celebrity she has achieved,” said Drew Kerr of WildEarth Guardians.

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sued over Mexican gray wolf recovery plan   Leave a comment

From:  L.A. Times by 

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Conservation organizations on Wednesday sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to complete a long overdue, legally required recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, the lobo of Southwestern lore.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona, aims to enforce compliance with rules the agency adopted 38 years ago to guide recovery of the federally endangered species driven to near extinction by wolf extermination campaigns of the 19th and 20th centuries.

It asks the court to declare the agency in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and order it to “prepare and implement a scientifically based, legally valid” final recovery plan within a year of the court’s judgment.

The Mexican gray wolf was reintroduced into a small area of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico in 1998 as part of a strategy to reach a population of 100 wolves, including 18 breeding pairs, by 2006.

Today, the population stands at 83 wolves, and five breeding pairs. They are managed under restrictions that do not permit the mobile, clannish hunters to colonize new territory, increasing the likelihood of inbreeding, according to the lawsuit. The restrictions also allow excessive killing and removal of wolves that take livestock, the lawsuit says.

By the agency’s own assessment in a recent draft environmental impact report, the existing population is “considered small, genetically impoverished, and significantly below estimates of viability appearing in the scientific literature.”

Sherry Barrett, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican gray wolf recovery coordinator, was unavailable for comment.

Plaintiffs including the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center, the Wolf Conservation Center and David R. Parsons, a biologist who served as the agency’s Mexican gray wolf recovery coordinator from 1990 to 1999, accuse the agency of yielding to political pressure from ranchers, hunting groups and state officials in Utah, Arizona and Colorado.

In a letter to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in late 2011, for instance, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert urged that Colorado and Utah be excluded from what he described as “the Mexican gray wolf equation,” on grounds that those states were not “within its core historic range.”

The agency, in 2013, published documents based on recent genetic research showing that the species scientists know as Canis lupus baileyi ranged as far north as Utah and Nebraska.

“Unfortunately, when confronted with views from various interest groups — particularly livestock industry organizations, state wildlife agencies and the less enlightened hunting organizations – the agency takes a head-in-the-sand approach,” Parsons said in an interview. “What seems to be driving things in this case are the politics surrounding the Mexican gray wolf.”

Since 1982, the agency has convened three different scientific teams to prepare a formal recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf.

The most recent effort produced a draft recovery plan in 2012 that recommended establishing two additional Mexican gray wolf populations, one in the Grand Canyon and another in the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. The overall goal was to create three self-sustaining sub populations totaling 750 wolves.

The plan also suggested several areas of suitable habitat for reintroduction efforts including land in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado.

That plan, however, was never published, and the recovery team that produced it never reconvened to review the proposal’s viability, according to the lawsuit.

“The agency has caved in to demands of the anti-wolf states,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “Meanwhile, decades after it decided to reintroduce it into the wilds, the Mexican gray wolf remains on the precipice of extinction.”

Louis.Sahagun@latimes.com

Stand4Wolves – WildEarth Guardians   2 comments

We’ve made a short film (above) about why wolves are so important to the landscape, and to all of us. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered species has us howlin’ mad. Please take a few moments to watch the film, share with your friends and family and take action to help save wolves from extinction.

Without the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) wolves will be back in the crosshairs, subject to hunter’s traps, guns, and bows and to Wildlife Services’ poisons. Just last Saturday a two-year old female Yellowstone wolf wandered out of the safety of the Park and was shot and killed. This tragedy will happen over and over again across the West if Secretary Jewell removes critical protections for wolves.

As our film explains, wolves are critical ecological forces on the landscape, but they have only returned to 5% of their historic range. The job of wolf recovery is simply not done. Take action today to ensure these beautiful iconic animals are returned to ecosystems across our country where they are needed and where they belong.

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