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Advocacy Groups Sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Over Mexican Gray Wolf Plan

Southwest Wildlife

A coalition of advocacy groups is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in the Southwest. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the suit claims the federal agency has not enacted a plan that fulfills requirements made by federal law.

According to the group Earthjustice, the Endangered Species Act requires a plan that will increase wolf populations to eventually allow for their removal from the Endangered Species List. However, the current recovery plan hasn’t been revised since 1982. Earthjustice says that policy doesn’t include sufficient science and management procedures needed to achieve healthy population numbers of the animals.

Currently, about 80 wolves roam the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in eastern Arizona and New Mexico. Earthjustice says their population would have to increase to 750 in order to be delisted as an endangered species.

A spokesperson with the Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment for this story. But, in the federal agency’s own assessment of the program, officials do acknowledge the plan lacks specifics that would allow for full recovery. They also admit failures in meeting goals for wolf population growth.

Federal wildlife officials say attempts to overhaul the plan have been thwarted by litigation over the years. However, they claim substantial success in bringing Mexican gray wolves back from the verge of extinction. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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