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IWC: Mexican wolves reintroduced in both U.S. and Mexico

[large thumbnail url=”iwc-mexican-wolves-reintroduced-in-both-u-s-and-mexico” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”02″ day=”16″] [thumbnail icon url=”iwc-mexican-wolves-reintroduced-in-both-u-s-and-mexico” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”02″ day=”16″] Jess Edberg, from the International Wolf Center, wrote an article about Mexico’s plans to reintroduce five wolves following a devastating year where America’s population declined by 20 percent.

Just when the United States (U.S.) Mexican wolf population is at its lowest in seven years, Mexico has announced a plan to reintroduce five Mexican wolves into northeastern Sonora, within 100 miles of the Arizona border.

Last year marked a seven-year low for the endangered Mexican wolf population in the southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico. A 2009 wolf census revealed a 20 percent drop – from 2008 estimates of 52 known wolves in the wild to just 42. The number of wolves that are not associated with radio collared wolf packs is unknown.

Although changes in lethal control were implemented in late 2009, effectively eliminating the “three strikes” rule (three livestock depredations lead to removal), the population has diminished. Illegal killing (poaching) by humans and an unusually low pup-survival rate are believed to be the two main causes of the decline.

The U.S. and Mexico have long been working together to recover the Mexican wolf population on both sides of the border. However, the U.S. had a jump start in the reintroduction when it began releasing wolves in 1998. A recent decision by Mexican President Felipe Calderon to make the Mexican wolf one of five priority species prompted Mexican wildlife officials to get the ball rolling.

The planned reintroduction in Sonora, a state in northwestern Mexico, has already started controversy.

Biologically, potential exists for the wolves released in Mexico to migrate north and connect to the U.S. population, thus increasing genetic diversity without U.S. efforts. The Mexican-released wolves will also add to the total subspecies population on the ground.

Sociologically, concerns have been raised about how to manage any immigrant wolves from Mexico into Arizona and potentially New Mexico.

Legally, any Mexican wolves immigrating to the U.S. will receive full, federal protection until they reach the area known as the Blue Range Recovery Area, which classifies Mexican wolves as “nonessential, experimental.” This designation allows federal officials to consider lethal control for wolves that depredate. In either area, any wolf posing an immediate threat to human safety may be lethally controlled.

The most anticipated challenge will occur if Mexican wolf immigrants begin attacking livestock in areas where they receive full protection. Livestock producers and managers alike are weighing the options available and planning ahead.

The exact date of the planned release in Mexico had not been announced at the time of publication.

Jess Edberg, Information Services Director — International Wolf Center, 02/16/2010
Original Article published on www.wolf.org

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