Monday, June 07, 2010
Wolf-recovery program now 'at risk of failure'
Twelve years after Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced in Eastern Arizona, their dwindling numbers are putting the population "at risk of failure," says a recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Factors such as the rigid borders of the endangered wolves' recovery area, removal of wolves to protect livestock, and illegal shooting of wolves are keeping the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves from growing, says the "conservation assessment" released last month. The project has cost taxpayers $20 million or more since 1998. Now officials and others are seeking a way to move the wolf program further from its origin as a way to rescue the subspecies, and instead create a viable wild population. Among the initiatives under way is a proposed release of eight captive wolves into the area, which would be the most wolves released since 2003. The regional head of the Fish and Wildlife Service discussed the possible release with the directors of Arizona's and New Mexico's game and fish departments Wednesday. Much of what the service and environmentalists are proposing, Schneberger sees as threatening to her livelihood and that of her neighbors. The truth about the project, Schneberger said, is it's doomed by genetic limitations. Just seven wolves trapped in the 1970s are ancestors of the entire population of Mexican gray wolves, including the 42 in the project and more than 300 in captive breeding sites. "They have plenty of space. They just can't breed," Schneberger said...more