Albuquerque, NM. The only public hearing in the country on controversial changes to the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program is scheduled for October 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Albuquerque's Embassy Suites.
Also being proposed is the removal of all other gray wolves from the endangered species list.
Two other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) hearings - in Sacramento, California, and Washington, D.C. - are drawing attention to the FWS's proposal to remove most gray wolves from the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act nationwide. Mexican gray wolves, however, are the only U.S. gray wolf proposed to stay on the list as an "endangered" subspecies, and the Albuquerque hearing will focus on proposed regulations to revamp the 15-year-old lobo reintroduction program.
Just 75 Mexican wolves survive in New Mexico and Arizona. Progress and planning toward recovering Mexican wolves to safe numbers in the wild has stalled.
"The content of these proposals is critical to the survival and recovery of Mexican wolves, which are still vulnerable to extinction in the wild. This public hearing will be the last opportunity for a long time for concerned citizens to express their views about Mexican wolves and gray wolves nationwide to federal officials," said David R. Parsons, Wildlife Biologist, and former coordinator of the FWS's Mexican wolf recovery program. Parsons is now with The Rewilding Institute, an Albuquerque-based conservation think tank.
Parsons and scientists assigned to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team maintain that releases from captivity must be resumed and Mexican wolves must be allowed to live in additional areas with good habitat to secure their recovery. The federal proposal would allow release of captive-bred wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and allow wolves to roam outside of current boundaries.
The proposal would stop wolves from reaching important suitable habitats north of Interstate 40 and south of I-10 by ordering their capture and return to the prescribed area.
The public hearing will last from 6 - 9 p.m., Friday, October 4, 2013, at the Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque.
Conservation groups will hold a Save the Lobo event in the same location prior to the hearing.