October 12, 2015
More releases of wolves are needed to genetically bolster the population in the wild. Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
Letter to feds points out dangers of ‘genetic bottleneck’
Political resistance at the state level shouldn’t deter federal biologists from releasing more Mexican gray wolves into the wild, according to conservation activists, who say that such releases are needed to prevent the wild population from becoming genetically crippled.
In a letter to federal officials, biologists and wildlife advocates urged Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to release at least five more packs of wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico through the end of this year and into 2016.
The “perilously low” number of breeding pairs makes the wolf population vulnerable to inbreeding depression that could send the population into a downward spiral, more than 40 biologists and conservation groups warned in the Oct. 8 letter.
“Federal biologists know they must release more Mexican wolves from captivity, but the Obama administration has permitted the release of just four,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Then the government recaptured one and shot another, and the remaining two also died, which argues not only for stricter protections but also for many more releases to ensure that some wolves actually add to the gene pool.”
Conservation advocates said in the letter that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is underestimating the number of wolf releases needed to nudge wolf populations toward recovery and long-term stability:
“What worries us, in addition to the absence of releases in the seven and a half months since the rule went into effect, is that the Service’s final numbers –– 35 to 50 wolves to be released over the course of 20 years, with more at the outset and fewer later on – seem not to take into account evidence that far more releases will be required to address the crisis of inbreeding.”
“The longer we delay in introducing new wolves to increase genetic variation in the wild Mexican gray wolf populations, the greater our future challenge will be to ensure that this distinctive wolf survives,” said Joseph Cook, of the American Society of Mammalogists. “Small populations with limited genetic variability often suffer from the consequences of inbreeding depression, Small populations with limited genetic variability also are generally less resilient to changing environmental conditions and less resistant to the introduction of novel pathogens.”
According to the latest census number, 110 wolves, including just eight breeding pairs, live in the combined Gila National Forest in New Mexico and Apache National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Fewer than 15 wolves live in the wild in Mexico.
“Mexican wolves are part of the natural heritage of all Americans,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande chapter. “The Endangered Species Act, which requires the protection and recovery of imperiled animals, continues to be a very popular national law. Though a vocal minority at the state level is attempting to obstruct the return of wolves to the Southwest, the Fish and Wildlife Service should proceed to release more wolves to safeguard their still fragile population.”
Conservation activists say there’s plenty of room for wolves to roam in the Gila Wilderness, and that more hesitation will simply delay the targeted recovery of the species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife early this year expanded the area where captive-bred wolves could be released to include the 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest. The Gila is the fourth-largest national forest in the country and encompasses the world’s first official wilderness area, designated in 1924, that was protected from construction of roads. The Gila also supports thousands of deer, elk and other animals on which wolves prey, thereby overall strengthening such animals’ herds and preventing overgrazing. Yet more than half of this national forest has no wolves.
By Bob Berwyn
Source October , 2015
Wyoming has been fighting Washington over delisting since 2003, objecting to the federal standards and offering its own plan for controlling wolf populations. Wyoming treated wolves as “vermin” and allowed them to be hunted along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout National Forest lands south of Jackson Hole.
219 wolves were killed in 80% of Wyoming opened to “unlimited” killing since the delisting in late August 2012.
Overruling U.S. wildlife officials, a federal judge (Amy Berman Jackson) restored protections for gray wolves in Wyoming in September 2014.
Wyoming’s kill-on-sight attitude as a wolf management plan throughout much of the state is a disgrace. Wyoming officials need to be conscious of the fact that “sport” (trophy) hunting of wolves is inconsistent with the need for continued protections for this essential, iconic species. Labeling the wolf as a predator that could be shot in four-fifths of the state is hardly a way to treat a species freshly removed from the ESA.
Cast your vote. How should Wyoming’s wolf population be managed~certainly not by the state, please choose the first option: “The current federal controls will protect the population.”
From intheshadowofthewolf on August 2, 2015
Please send off these tweets for Denali National Park Wolves at your leisure until just before 3:00 p.m. EDT, August 5th:
1. Please join tweetstorm for Denali National Park #Wolves August 5, 3:00 EDT #StandForWolves #SaveDenaliWolves goo.gl/ItF954
2. #SaveWolves #StandForWolves Be a voice for Alaska’s #Wolves #SaveDenaliWolves. Please join tweetstorm! Details here: goo.gl/ItF954
3. Alaska’s #Wolves face catastrophe, Denali Wolves population plummeted to 48! #SaveDenaliWolves TWEETSTORM: goo.gl/ItF954
4. #Alaska #Wolves #SaveDenaliWolves #SaveWolves Be a voice for imperiled park wolves. Tweetstorm: goo.gl/ItF954
5. Demand #Alaska reinstate emergency protections for Denali National Park #Wolves #SaveDenaliWolves Tweetstorm: goo.gl/ItF954
6. Denali National Park #Wolves should be protected from hunting/trapping Help make this happen: goo.gl/ItF954 #SaveDenaliWolves
7. #StandForWolves The time to #SaveDenaliWolves is now! Join our tweetstorm August 5, 3:00 EDT Be a voice for #wolves goo.gl/ItF954
8. #Wolves #SaveDenaliWolves #StandForWolves Save #ArchipelagoWolves Please tweet for more support:http://wp.me/p6o9qd-2B
Please send off these tweets for Alexander Archipelago Wolves at your leisure until 3:00 p.m. EDT August 10th:
1.**Tweetstorm** #Wolves #StandForWolves Please be a voice for Alexander #ArchipelagoWolves: https://t.co/eEorYSwIug PLS RT
2. Alaska’s #Wolves face catastrophe, Alexander #ArchipelagoWolves population plummeted 60% in 1 yr. Be their voice: goo.gl/R5FfLq
3.**Tweetstorm** #Wolves #SaveWolves #StandForWolves Be a voice for the imperiled #ArchipelagoWolves: http://t.co/oPeXzNcwgc
4. Demand #Alaska call off the hunting & trapping season 4 imperiled #ArchipelagoWolves PLS join tweetstorm 8/10: goo.gl/R5FfLq
5. #ArchipelagoWolves should be protected under #ESA as an #EndangeredSpecies. Help make this happen! Tweetstorm: goo.gl/R5FfLq
6. The time to save Alaska’s #wolves is now! Save #ArchipelagoWolves. Please join tweetstorm 8/10 #SaveWolves Help out: goo.gl/R5FfLq
7. Alaska’s Prince of Wales #ArchipelagoWolves are nearing #Extinction. Demand emergency protection! #StandForWolves goo.gl/R5FfLq
Thank you, everyone, for your support. Together we can be a strong voice for our beloved wolves!
From intheshadowofthewolf on July 23, 2015
Please send off these tweets to your following at your leisure over the weekend for added support. This imperiled species needs our help urgently with as many voices as we can muster! Thank you.
**Tweetstorm** #Wolves #StandForWolves Please be a voice for Archipelago Wolves: https://t.co/eEorYSwIug PLS RT
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/U22
Alaska’s #Wolves face catastrophe, Alexander Archipelago Wolves population plummeted 60% in 1 yr. Be their voice: goo.gl/R5FfLq
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/zce29
**Tweetstorm** #Wolves #SaveWolves #StandForWolves Be a voice for the imperiled Archipelago Wolves: http://t.co/oPeXzNcwgc
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/cbroy
Demand #Alaska call off the hunting & trapping season 4 imperiled Archipelago #Wolves PLS join tweetstorm 7/27: goo.gl/R5FfLq
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/23g6x
Archipelago #wolves should be protected under #ESA as an #EndangeredSpecies. Help make this happen! Tweetstorm: goo.gl/R5FfLq
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/otA39
The time to save Alaska’s #wolves is now! Be a voice for Archipelago Wolves. Please join tweetstorm 7/27 #SaveWolves Help out: goo.gl/R5FfLq
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/nz7ma
Alaska’s Prince of Wales #Wolves are nearing #Extinction. Demand emergency protection! #StandForWolves goo.gl/R5FfLq
Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/90TJj
We’ve made a short film (above) about why wolves are so important to the landscape, and to all of us. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered species has us howlin’ mad. Please take a few moments to watch the film, share with your friends and family and take action to help save wolves from extinction.
Without the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) wolves will be back in the crosshairs, subject to hunter’s traps, guns, and bows and to Wildlife Services’ poisons. Just last Saturday a two-year old female Yellowstone wolf wandered out of the safety of the Park and was shot and killed. This tragedy will happen over and over again across the West if Secretary Jewell removes critical protections for wolves.
As our film explains, wolves are critical ecological forces on the landscape, but they have only returned to 5% of their historic range. The job of wolf recovery is simply not done. Take action today to ensure these beautiful iconic animals are returned to ecosystems across our country where they are needed and where they belong.