Environmental groups are challenging the Interior Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a new recovery plan for the Mexican wolf.
WildEarth Guardians and the Western Watershed Project filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. According to the complaint, the Mexican wolf is the smallest, rarest, southernmost, and most genetically distinct subspecies of the North American gray wolf. The sub-species was essentially eradicated by the mid- 1900s and listed as endangered in 1976. A 1982 recovery plan called the animal’s prospects “dire” and focused on developing a self-sustaining population of at least 100 wolves in a 5,000-square-mile area in Arizona and New Mexico. Wolves were bred in captivity and released into the wild. However, just 113 reported roam free today. A science team produced a new draft recovery plan in 2012, but officials with all the Four Corners states complained that it went too far. In response, the Fish and Wildlife Service held closed-door meetings with state and Mexican officials and released a different recovery plan late last year. Environmentalists say the new plan, which reduces the goal from 750 wolves to just 320, “is deeply flawed” and violates the Endangered Species Act. In a release, Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center said the new recovery plan was designed by “politicians and anti-wolf states” and calls it an “affront.”