On June 2, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — alongside the New Mexico and Arizona Game and Fish departments — signed a letter of intent to work collaboratively on protecting the Mexican gray wolf. This letter of intent comes right before the five-year recovery update that is due from the 2017 Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Public Affairs specialist Aislinn Maestas.
“(We are) coming together to reaffirm, but also put into a formalized agreement, that we are committed to recovering Mexican wolves, both in the United States and historical areas in Mexico,” Maestas said.
The letter serves as a reassurance and commitment to the 2017 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. The plan’s goal is to foster healthy populations of the species of at least 320 and 200 wolves in the U.S. and United Mexican States, respectively. The exact work plan will be discussed and formalized during an annual trilateral meeting, between conservation agencies from Mexico, Canada and the United States.
“We need two healthy populations, one in Mexico and one in the United States. And so the future conservation of the species is kind of dependent on both and having two healthy wild populations,” Maestas said.
Chris Smith from WildEarth Guardians voiced concerns over the over border wall and how the physical barrier prevents the two populations from mingling.
“(The border wall is) a huge hindrance to the connectivity between the population in Mexico and the population in New Mexico and Arizona. So, we're kind of talking out of both sides of our mouth. We want to coordinate, we want to collaborate — and then we put up a giant wall that prohibits Mexican wolves from, you know, migrating between populations like they have done for millennia,” Smith said.
Prior to the wall, U.S. Fish and Wildlife still did not see the two populations interact, according to Maestas.
Mexico and the United States currently share information and tactics that they have, including how to trap the wolves in order to affix collars to them to keep track of them. Maestas emphasized the collaboration, specifically mentioning these collars.
“We're trying to get more collars on wolves in Mexico. I think that's a big effort that we all agree is important to do so that we can have better data. When we send our wolves from the United States to Mexico, we ensure that they're affixed with collars so that we can follow them once they move down to Mexico. So there's a lot of coordination that's happening between the two countries all the time,” Maestas said.
Smith said the collaboration of the two countries is positive, but feels the action from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still insufficient.
“It's great that we're collaborating with Mexico, but (the) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a legal obligation to recover Mexican wolves from the United States … It's awesome that we are sharing information and resources and coordinating with Mexico, but at the same time … the Fish and Wildlife Service here is inadequate in protecting and recovering the species. It's not one or the other, but they need to be doing better here” Smith said.
Madeline Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @maddogpukite