The annual Mexican gray wolf population survey in Alpine, Ariz., shows that poaching is slowing the species’ recovery.
The federal government has drafted a long-awaited recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, setting for the first time a population level that could allow the wolf to be removed from the endangered-species list.
When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife wrote the 1982 recovery plan, the wolves were so close to extinction that the agency did not set a firm population figure for recovery. This time around, the plan sets the de-listing threshold to 320 wolves in the U.S. and 170 in Mexico, spread over two populations for eight years.
The agency will issue the final recovery plan in November as agreed in a settlement with Arizona Game and Fish Department and Defenders of Wildlife.
Some conservation groups already question the plan. It “sets unjustifiably low thresholds,” said Michael Robinson of the Center of Biological Diversity.
In 2012, he said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commissioned a recovery team that found the wolf needed a population of 750 spread over three populations for eight years, but abandoned the draft plan.
Amid the wolves’ uncertain future, the 1982 recovery plan had set a benchmark population of 100, but the draft update issued on Thursday emphasized…
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