Conservationists and animal advocates are calling for action after two endangered Mexican gray wolves were removed from the wild in New Mexico, and a third was targeted for removal.
Mexican wolves were once widespread throughout vast portions of the Southwest and Mexico, but they were eradicated by the 1900s. While they were protected as an endangered species in the late 1970s, they're still far from having a population that scientists believe they need to survive in the wild.
As of the last official count released in 2017 there were only 114 individuals in the wild, making them one of the most endangered mammals in North America — and now recovery efforts are being further hampered by the very agency charged with protecting them.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which is legally mandated to ensure their survival, has just removed two young females from Gila National Forest, and targeted a third for removal for suspected preying on livestock.
In response, their advocates, including 37 animal advocacy and conservation organizations, are calling on the FWS to cancel the removal order for one, and release the other two immediately. Sign on if you agree!
They argue that all wolf removal activities should be ended, and that the two who were captured are being used as scapegoats for a conflict that could have been prevented had ranchers followed scientific recommendations to remove carcasses of dead cattle — which are on public lands — before wolves had a chance to scavenge them. Not doing so not only gives wolves an easy meal, it also gives them a reason to move in and stay near vulnerable cattle they can hunt.
Overall, the removal of any wolves is putting their recovery and survival further at risk by taking valuable individuals out of a population that's already facing a number of other threats ranging from a lack of genetic diversity, diseases and natural disasters to being killed in traps and intentionally killed by humans; dozens of illegal killings have been documented since reintroduction efforts began in the late 1990s, while the government has since shot 15, and is responsible for the deaths of 16 more who died as a result of being captured.
For a species on that has continued to teeter on the brink, removing individuals shouldn't be an option and captured wolves should be set free.
Please sign and share this petition urging wildlife officials to release the two recently captured wolves, end all wolf removals, and continue to work on obvious solutions to prevent conflicts like this with us from happening in the first place.