ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of a final revised recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, Second Revision (final revised recovery plan), provides new site-specific recovery actions to improve protections for Mexican wolves in the wild.
“These revisions will improve protections for Mexican wolves in the wild and increase their chances at survival,” said Brady McGee, Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator. “Collaboration, flexibility, and communication remain the cornerstones of this program. We will continue working with our local, state, federal and Tribal partners to achieve our recovery goals.”
On October 14, 2021, the District Court of Arizona remanded the 2017 recovery plan to the Service to address the threat of human-caused mortality, including illegal killing. The revised plan includes new site-specific management actions to address the threat of human-caused mortality, including illegal killing. The revisions address the part of the plan remanded by the court, and do not include any changes to the recovery strategy or criteria.
Recovery plans provide a framework for the recovery of a species so that Endangered Species Act protection is no longer necessary. The Mexican wolf recovery plan provides objective, measurable criteria that, when met, will ensure threats have been alleviated sufficiently for the Service to pursue delisting. The recovery plan uses the best available science to chart a path forward for the Mexican wolf that can be accommodated within the species’ historical range in the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
The following are some of the new site-specific recovery actions in the revised plan to address these threats in the U.S. and Mexico:
- Conduct education and outreach in local communities within occupied Mexican wolf range in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area and other areas where wolves disperse in order to improve hunter, trapper, rancher, and public awareness and tolerance of wolves, including materials with biological and legal information and conflict reduction techniques;
- Increase law enforcement presence in areas identified as mortality hot spots to assist in public education, deter illegal killing, investigate wolf mortalities, and coordinate with law enforcement from other agencies;
- Install enhancements to facilitate Mexican wolf movement across existing and new roads and reduce vehicle collisions; and
- Implement livestock conflict avoidance measures in hotspots of depredation activity to reduce depredation-related wolf removals. Examples of such measures include pasture rotations of livestock, the use of fladry around sensitive areas such as calving areas, fence repair and maintenance, hazing, and range riders.
Human-caused mortality includes vehicle collisions and illegal killings (take). This take includes illegal shooting with a firearm or arrow and illegal trap-related mortalities by the public. In 2020 (the last year of published data), 14 wolves were identified as having been illegally killed and 6 were identified as having died from vehicle collisions. The wild population of Mexican wolves has continued to grow in recent years despite these mortalities. At the end of 2021, there were a minimum of 196 Mexican wolves in the United States (Arizona and New Mexico) and around 35 in Mexico.
The Service received more than 48,000 public comments on the draft revised recovery plan, which was released in April 2022. The final revision includes refinements based on these comments and peer review but does not deviate significantly from the proposed revision.
Next year, the Service will produce its first five-year status review of the 2017 recovery plan, which will determine if the recovery strategy is proving effective or needs revision, in coordination with states and the Mexican government.