Draft Mexican wolf conservation assessment announced by FWS
74 Fed. Reg. 914 / Vol. 74, No. 6 / Friday, January 9, 2009 / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) Conservation Assessment; Notice of availability; draft conservation assessment; request for comments.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the availability of the Draft Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment (draft assessment) for public review and comment. The draft assessment provides scientific information relevant to the conservation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in Arizona and New Mexico as a component of the Service’s gray wolf (Canis lupus) recovery efforts. Not required by the Endangered Species Act (Act), the draft assessment is a non-regulatory document that does not require action by any party. We solicit review and comment from the public on this document. The draft assessment is also available from FWS online
The conservation and recovery of species is one of the primary goals of the FWS endangered species program. The Mexican wolf historically inhabited the southwestern United States and portions of Mexico until it was virtually eliminated in the wild by private and governmental predator eradication efforts in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. A 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan recommended the establishment of a captive breeding program and the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the wild. Both of these recommendations have been implemented, and today an international captive breeding program houses more than 300 wolves, and a wild population of approximately 52 wolves (as of the official 2007 end-of-year count) inhabits Arizona and New Mexico. Photo from FWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Program pages
EXCERPT FROM THE CONSERVATION ASSESSMENT: A conservation assessment, unlike a recovery plan, is not a document required by or defined in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) or related policies. It has no predetermined format or content mandated by law or policy. Rather, this is a unique document developed in response to the unique needs of the Service at this time. It has been over 20 years since the completion of the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, and an up-to-date description and assessment of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) recovery effort in the Southwest is needed.
The gray wolf recovery effort in the Southwest Region consists of a Mexican wolf captive breeding program and a reintroduction project to reestablish a population of at least 100 wolves in the wild. As envisioned by the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, these efforts have ensured the survival of the Mexican wolf. Although lagging behind population growth projections, the current reintroduced population is relatively secure from threats.
However, recovery criteria have not been developed to provide a broader perspective for the significance of the reintroduced population. Consideration of the principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation suggest that larger populations have less extinction risk than smaller populations, multiple populations enhance the likelihood of species’ persistence more than a single population, and short-term fitness and long-term adaptive potential of populations is best supported by establishing larger, rather than smaller, effective population sizes. Although the degree to which the Blue Range population contributes to resiliency, redundancy, and representation is precluded by a lack of recovery criteria against which the population objective to establish a single population of at least 100 wolves can be evaluated, it is clear that the establishment of this population does not achieve resiliency, redundancy, or representation.