Regulations Fence Out Successful [Mexican] Wolf Reintroduction

The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit Dec. 14 to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement reforms to the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program that a scientific panel had urged back in June 2001.

This was a wolf restoration program that was designed in a way that it could not possibly succeed. Imagine the Northern Rockies wolf restoration if the wolves had been confined to the boundaries of Yellowstone Park, and a Yellowstone Park with fewer elk, and full of cows managed by indolent ranchers.

Here is the story on the lawsuit by Michael J. Robinson of Center for Biological Diversity.

A successful lawsuit will help, but the parameters for this program are incompatible with recovery. There will never be but a token population of Mexican wolves unless fundamental changes are made.







  1. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    All I can say, it is about time. This program has been struggling since its inception. As I see it, there are three reasons that it is failing:

    1. The FWS in the Southwest just does not have the fortitude to take on the ranchers. I do not know how Mitch King will do, but from what I have seen in him working with ranchers, the same old crap.

    2. The ranchers in that area could give a hoot about FWS or the Endangered Species Act. And it is not just wolves. They will screw up streams that are home to Apache, and other species of cutthroat trout. The big issue for wolves, is they will not remove livestock carcasses, or render them unedible. FWS must institute severe fines for those ranchers ranchers who refuse to comply with the agancy’s simple rules.

    3. The boundries of the recovery area must be expanded. Also institute the Paquet recommendations and perhaps the program might get back on it’s feet.

    We won’t have to wait long to see if this program will fail. There are +/- 40 wolves in the wild. At the rate of 20% loss per year, it will not take long. The Federal court system must step in and protect these animals

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    I can’t help but think that certain ranchers are privately laughing while thinking of their “power” to basically run the reintroduction program into the ground.
    Read what Dave Parsons (he led the FWS’s reintroduction program in the 90s) and other scientists and conservationists wrote in formal comments about the program in May 2005. The link:

  3. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    It is too bad that the Paquet recomendations were not applied. If they were, the program would not be where it is today.

    Adaptive management is being attempted in other area of the west. One area is under a resource management plan (RMP) revision. Some of the more vocal proponents are ranchers with questionable conservation ethic. I and other citizens and environmental advocates are questioning their motives. It is our belief that they will coerce the BLM through political pressure, to institute questionable land mangement pratices. (See my comment on Kathleen Clarke) We therefore wonder why some folks are so adament in requesting adaptive management. I have seen these folks in action and most do not have a clue what it is about.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Maybe it’s because adaptive management ends up just meaning “flying by the seat of your pants.”

  5. mike Avatar

    I agree with Ralph’s comment about the weaknesses in “adaptive management” and, although I hate to admit it, I’m afraid those same weaknesses apply to many or most instances of “cooperation and collaboration.” All too often, when you try to “collaborate,” you end up just tricked into being a “collaborator,” in something close to the WWII sense of the term.

    With regard to Rick Hammel’s mention of so many conservation efforts just not having a clue, I believe that one of the most dangerous elephants in the room is the question of the population size required to sustain genetic diversity in species at risk. We get these “collaborative” statisticians working out the risk numbers of how low we can go in population size without losing genetic viability. They tell us that 4,000 Yellowstone bison are way more than enough to sustain that gene pool; conveniently for them, 4,000 is also the number that The Park is supposed to be able to sustain from a habitat standpoint and about the number that the ranching lobby will tolerate as a tourist attraction. They tell us that they can cull all the Mexican wolves that they want with no danger to the needed genetic spectrum, then sit down with the rightwing lunatic fringe to spin up propaganda about the possibility of previous genetic contamination in the gene pool they started with. They tell us that a trout species only needs a few hundred individuals to stay viable; then, when they come back and tell us that they have allowed the pool to be contaminated, they start scrambing to redefine the level of genetic contamination that a population can absorb before they declare it hybridized, again all the while working with the lunatic fringe to whip up public sentiment to save the now hybridized populations and count them toward recovery goals on animal sympathy grounds. They assure us that they have a good handle on population size needed to sustain genetic viability in feline populations; then tell us to forget about Cheetah conservation because genetic diversity rules in that species are different and have already been compromised. They assure that they know what they are doing with regard to the needed genetic spectrum for the Florida panther; then, oops, surprise, declare that they need to deliberately crossbreed the species to restore enough genetic bandwidth to work with!

    My conclusion is that these “collaborative” statisticians are ultimately either hired by people like Gale “I’m manly and rich” Norton and Kathleen “Call me ‘come-hither Kate’ cuz I’ll do it for anybody” Clarke or they are stuck in the back of a dusty college lab and don’t get the contract. I think that we need to pay more attention to this aspect of species conservation and remember, first, that much of this “science” isn’t and probably never will be and, second, that some of these “collaborative” scientists are in the business of science in the same way that prostitutes are in the business of sex. It isn’t love and it isn’t marriage and there is no devotion to it; it’s a business deal!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan