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Arizona Game and Fish Commission votes to support alternative on Mexican wolf conservation developed by large stakeholder partnership

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously today (April 22) to support an alternative developed by 28 cooperating agencies and stakeholders for the non-essential population rule that governs Mexican wolf conservation in Arizona and New Mexico. The proposal, which has an unprecedented level of stakeholder support, is being submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for consideration in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

While still conceptual, the alternative is scientifically-based and would further cooperation between federal and state agencies and stakeholders to achieve a self-sustaining wolf population. Key elements of the alternative include:

Allowing up to triple the target number of Mexican wolves in the Southwest from the 1982 recovery plan's goal of not less than 100 wolves to achieve a self-sustaining population.

Major expansion of the area where wolves can be released to include the Secondary Recovery Zone.

Expansion of the area where Mexican wolves can disperse and establish territories.

Establishment of a connectivity corridor for wolves to disperse to the species' core historical range in Mexico.

Recognition of the importance of Mexico as a primary element to successful Mexican wolf recovery.

"The biggest impediment to the Mexican wolf reintroduction effort in the Southwest isn't biologically-based. It's social tolerance for an apex predator on today's modern landscape that must support such a wide variety of conservation, recreation and economic uses. This alternative represents the first time such a broad-based group has come together for Mexican wolf conservation, and it goes a long ways to enhancing social tolerance and, in turn, successful conservation of the species," says J.W. Harris, chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The alternative provides concepts that stakeholders want the Service to evaluate as it prepares the draft EIS that will eventually be opened to broad public review and comment.


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