Photo: Mexican Grey Wolf
Though years have passed since federal wildlife officials began attempts to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the Southwest, officials say this year, it will happen.
Benjamin Tuggle of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says this year, the wolves reintroduction is at the top of his list of things to accomplish this year. He said he’s brought scientists, ranchers, conservationists, and anyone else he thinks he may need to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Trying to get the wolves back into New Mexico and Arizona has been a challenge due to court battles, illegal shootings, concerns from environmentalists, and complaints from ranchers who say the wolves have killed their livestock anytime reintroduction is attempted.
Last year, six wolf deaths were reported, and only one wasn’t under suspicious circumstances.
These wolves were once all over New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico, but as the human population grew, the wolves’ dwindled due to conflicts between wolves and ranchers and their livestock.
The wolves were added to the endangered species list in 1972, a recovery plan for the wolves began in 1982, and the first 11 wolves were released in 1998. It was hoped that by 2006, there would be more than 100 wolves in the wild, but as of the start of 2010, there were only 42.