SOUTH FORK— On April 25, a federal court in Denver removed an obstacle prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife from releasing additional Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico and Arizona wilderness. Some local residents have voiced concerns on the matter, fearing the change might spark an opportunity to bring the reclusive animal to the region. Though these accounts have been unverifiable, the Department of Colorado Parks and Wildlife have answered to the call and confirmed that the project is not coming to this state, nor the region.
According to accounts by the Associated Press, “A federal court on April 25 removed an obstacle to the U.S. government’s plan to release more endangered wolves in New Mexico over the state’s objections, but it was not clear whether additional animals would be reintroduced under the Trump administration.” The article released on the topic continues to state that the state of New Mexico has been strongly against the reintroduction of the gray wolf from the beginning after seeing the results of previous projects in other U.S. states.
The article also states, “The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary order issued by a lower court that stopped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing more Mexican gray wolves after New Mexico refused to agree to the plan. The state game and fish department is disappointed, but it will keep pursuing the case in federal court in New Mexico, where it was originally filed.”
When asked about the project coming anywhere near the San Juan Mountain Range or Rio Grande National Forest, Joe Lewandowski, CPW public information officer for the southwest region of the state said, “This is a New Mexico project. There are no plans in Colorado for reintroducing wolves. We would have no comment on the topic.”
Gray wolves were placed on the endangered species list in 1976 after being hunted into almost extinction by 1970. According to records provided by Ecological Services, “The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Once common throughout portions of the southwestern United States, the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s. In 1977, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated efforts to conserve the species. In 1998, Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area within the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States.”
Since the obstacle was removed in April, Associated Press has released additional articles highlighting the project as it moves forward. “Federal wildlife officials have successfully placed two captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups into a wild den with a foster family. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the release Friday, a day after it was made public that the state Game and Fish Department cleared the way for a cross-fostering project aimed at boosting genetic diversity among wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The state, last week, issued a permit allowing for the placement of the pups.” The release of the pups took place at the beginning of May, heralding the actual start to the project.
CPW does not have any comment of possible future wolf reintroduction projects at this time.