Sunday, July 22, 2012

North America's Mexican Wolf Pack Count Exceeds Fourteen

Mexican wolf (female)

It has been recently reported that federal wildlife managers in the American Southwest have marked two more packs of Mexican wolves in the state of New Mexico, increasing the pack numbers to fourteen in the region. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has been trying to reintroduce this magnificent subspecies of the gray wolf in historic range from Arizona to New Mexico for more than twelve years. However, the efforts have been distressed by issues ranging from politics, to illegal shooting and courtroom battles. Historically, the first collection of these wolves was released into the wild in May 1998. There are currently 58 Mexican wolves remaining in those two states. A recent annual survey indicated that at least eighteen pups among packs at the beginning of the year. According to Liz Jozwiak, the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program's field coordinator, several packs are showing signs of denning behavior which could mean a possibility of having a new litter of pups. However, biologists are concerned about the genetic diversity within such a small population. That is, without new wolves released into the wild, inbreeding can result in smaller litter sizes and greater pup mortality. Last year, 38 pups were observed in the wild out of which less than half survived towards the end of the year. While the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery team is hoping for a higher survival rate this year, Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity argued that hope should not be used as a hurdle against the extinction of the Mexican wolf. Although the two new packs are good news, he stated that the federal government needs to release more wolves into the wild to help the population that has been held back by poaching, lack of new releases, and past instances of trappings and devastating removals caused by encounters with livestock. In addition to that, ranchers have been critical of the program saying that it has not done enough to protect their livelihood.
Mexican wolf (male)

I also happen to feel that the Mexican wolf recovery program has to do more than just have hope about this recent good news about the animals they are trying to save. I personally think that the program should join forces with the Center for Biological Diversity, in order to help bring the Mexican wolf back from the brink of extinction. That is, it should follow the footsteps of the center in addressing the federal government to release more of these wolves into the wild. The population of the Mexican wolf in the wild is still in a critical condition, which is why it is a critically endangered species in the U.S along with its relative the red wolf compared to other gray wolf subspecies in North America. While the news about these two new wolf packs is a good news, there is still a lot to be done to help the subspecies. Releasing more wolves into the wild is an absolute must, and at the same time the federal government with the help from conservation groups should help local ranchers come up with harmless methods to prevent any livestock losses from these wolves. One of the ways would be to use electric fencing with enough voltage to stun the wolves rather than kill them. Also, providing ranchers with livestock guardian dogs to keep the wolves off their land is another effective method. This tactic is being used by the government of Catalonia to help farmers keep wolves away from their livestock. If this strategy worked for the Catalonian farmers, it should work for the ranchers in the American Southwest and elsewhere in North American where there are wolves, coyotes, and even grizzly bears. In addition to that, there has to be a community outreach in order to raise awareness about the importance of Mexican wolves with a message conveying to help by reporting any suspicious activities related to poaching. Furthermore, poaching should be closely monitored by any cost. These magnificent creatures are struggling to make a comeback in their historic range, and they need our help to make their return.

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