Feds decline to list subspecies as distinct endangered group
Mexican wolves will remain on the endangered species list, but will not be designated as a distinct group, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided today.
The government rejected a petition by various conservation groups to list the Mexican gray wolf as a separate subspecies of gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
Conservation groups took the ruling as a setback for the subspecies' recovery.
Fewer than 60 Mexican wolves live in the wilds of western New Mexico and Arizona.
“We are baffled by the service’s decision,” said Mark Salvo, of
WildEarth Guardians. “The Endangered Species Act specifically allows for
protection for separate subspecies of animals, and separate listing
would benefit the failing, flailing Mexican wolf recovery program.”
WildEarth Guardians and other groups in 2009 petitioned to relist the Mexican wolf as a separate subspecies.
In the pre-publication federal register made public today, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the Mexican wolf has been listed as endangered as part of a broader recovery program in the lower 48 states.
"Mexican wolves have been protected by the Endangered Specis Act for 36 years. As a result of this protection ... the minimum number of Mexican wolves in the wild in the United States has risen from none in the late 1990s to 58 in 2011," the service stated.
But Salvo said denying a separate listing for Mexican wolves may have hindered the subspecies’ recovery.
"Reintroduced as an 'experimental population' to the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in New
Mexico and Arizona in 1998, the Mexican wolf still has not attained the service’s recovery goal of 100 wolves in the wild," Salvo said.
He described the Mexican gray wolf is the smallest and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf.
"Thousands once roamed across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico. Today, the lobo is one of the rarest terrestrial mammals in the world," Salvo said.