Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wolf Weekly Wrap Up, Mexican gray wolf, M-44 cyanide devices, The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Nationwide Ban Sought on Deadly M-44 Cyanide Bombs. M-44 cyanide devices cause agonizing deaths for thousands of animals every year, including family pets — so this morning the Center and partners petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to outlaw them. 
The devices are used by federal programs like the USDA's Wildlife Services — as well as state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas — to kill wolves, coyotes and other native carnivores for the sake of livestock by spraying sodium cyanide into animals' mouths. They also pose risks of accidental injury and death to people, dogs and endangered wildlife. 

"Cyanide traps are indiscriminate killers that just can't be safely used," said the Center's Collette Adkins. 

Read more in our press release and check out this visual storytelling piece on M-44s in The Revelator.

In Defense of Animals
Prevent the Execution of Endangered Wolves! The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed two wolves from the Smackout pack and has authorized further lethal action. Wolves were once numerous in Washington state but were killed off by ranchers and farmers. There are just eight breeding pairs of these endangered apex predators in the entire state of Washington. We must act urgently to take the Smackout pack out of the crosshairs! TAKE ACTION

Will the Mexican gray wolf once again flourish on the Southwestern landscape, or will it go extinct? 

Demand a science-based recovery plan that will prevent extinction of this magnificent and critically endangered species.

Mexican gray wolves—the “lobo” of Southwestern lore—once numbered in the thousands throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico. But following a state-sponsored program of extermination, within a period of less than a few decades, the entire population almost vanished from the face of the earth. The mass eradication effort was so successful that all but a handful of lobos were killed, earning the subspecies a place on the list of threatened and endangered species. In a last-ditch effort to save this icon of the Southwest, the few lobo survivors were ultimately captured and placed into a captive breeding program. Today, all living Mexican gray wolves are descendants of just seven survivors of the lethal extermination program.

In the late 1990s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reintroduced a small, captive-bred population of Mexican gray wolves back into eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Decades later, this population of only about 100 members remains on the brink of extinction since the FWS has failed to produce and implement an effective plan for the lobo’s recovery as required by the Endangered Species Act. Instead, the FWS has repeatedly bowed to local political opposition to wolf recovery. 

Following an Earthjustice lawsuit, the FWS recently released a draft Mexican wolf recovery plan. Unfortunately, the FWS has again catered to local wolf foes, icing out scientists from the process, producing a plan that will hinder recovery, if not lead the lobo to its eventual extinction in the wild.

Flaws in FWS’s recently released “Mexican Gray Wolf Plan” include:
  • Too few wolf releases over too small a geographic area.
  • Heavy reliance on recovery in Mexico—despite the fact that habitat there is inadequate.
  • Insufficient attention to the genetic threats facing the Mexican gray wolf.
  • Transfer of total control of wolf releases to the states, which have been actively hostile to recovery of the lobo. 
The FWS must address these shortcomings and craft a recovery plan that will prevent extinction of this critically endangered species.

In 1998,  Jamie Rappaport Clark found herself standing in Alpine, Arizona on the brink of a momentous occasion for Mexican gray wolves. 

At the time, Jamie Rappaport Clark was head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and had the extraordinary honor of releasing 11 of these beautiful creatures back into the American Southwest where they had been declared extinct in the wild since the mid-1970’s. 

She never would have imagined that just 19 years later, FWS would propose a recovery plan that measurably abandons their responsibility to secure a future for this iconic American species and would mean walking away from the promise we made to those 11 wolves on that historic day. 

She won’t let the promise of a future for Mexican gray wolves, or lobos, go unfulfilled – This is a critical time for one of the world’s rarest land mammals. FWS is proposing a radical new plan that would drastically curtail efforts to restore Mexican gray wolves to the southern borderlands and threaten all recovery efforts thus far. Defenders won’t turn our backs on lobos – we just wish FWS felt the same way.

Just over 100 lobos remain in the wild within the U.S., and this ill-conceived plan could jeopardize this fragile population with devastating consequences. It would draw artificial boundaries that would prevent lobos from dispersing to places that scientists say are necessary for their continued survival. 

The plan would also arbitrarily cap the population at 320 individuals – far fewer than the scientifically–recommended 750 needed to ensure their future. Finally, it would improperly turn over decision-making authority on wolf releases to states that have a long track record of hostility toward lobo recovery, allowing FWS to renege on its responsibilities to release lobos. 

If Mexican gray wolves are going to have any chance at a future in the wild, they are going to need a lifeline now. Together we can keep the promise of a future for lobos. Go to Defenders of Wildlife!