Conservation groups have long been saying that cross-fostering of Mexican wolf pups into wild dens won’t work as the only tool for the necessary genetic rescue of the wild population. We want adult, well-bonded pairs released from captivity with their pups, if possible, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been balking at this option. This is because Arizona and New Mexico have refused to allow releases of captive adults or packs and has insisted on a puppies-only genetic ingression policy that defies what science says is needed to actual save the species. Moreover, the Service has signed a “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA) with both states that includes:

In other words, the Service is playing extremely nice with the states by essentially allowing them to dictate the bounds of the recovery efforts (or said another way, abdicating federal authority to implement the Endangered Species Act, but I digress).

So, in March, when anti-wolfers were clamoring for one of the cross-fostered wolves from 2018 to be removed from the wild for allegedly depredating on livestock, we were relieved that the Service instead took the wolf (M1693) and his pregnant mate (F1728) into captivity with the intention of re-releasing them somewhere safer (and with less livestock-caused conflict) once the pups were born. We never want to see wolves removed from the wild, but this time, we really believed that the wolves were at risk if they stayed at Rainy Mesa. It’s a black hole of removals and this pair was too genetically important to stay in harm’s way.

Now the re-release site has been announced and it’s a good one. The Ladder Ranch Reserve, privately owned by Ted Turner, has plenty of game, no cows, and a supportive crew to help the wolf family get established. The proposed translocation site has bison (!), elk, and deer herds to feast on, and the adjacent livestock grazing allotments are held (and ungrazed) by the Ladder Ranch as well. What could be better? (Yes, ok, what could have been better is that the wolves would have been safe staying on the public lands of the national forest and that the problematic ranch operation would have been removed, but…. Here we are.)

And here’s the thing: if the states are going to insist on only cross-fostered releases, they’re going to have to support allowing those cross-fostered pups to grow up, mate, and have offspring in the wild or else the entire premise of genetic infusion is negated. If the Ladder Ranch translocation fails, the potential of 2018 cross-foster of M1693 would be unmet, and the important business of genetic infusion unfinished. It is therefore imperative that the FWS proceed with its full authority to translocate this wolf family onto private lands at the Ladder Ranch, and it’s great that New Mexico seems to be supporting the plan.

Anyway, given that the Service is taking a big step by releasing Mexican wolves on private land for the first time ever, we’re sending them some kudos and support. If you want to join us, send your ‘thank you’ notes to mexicanwolfcomments@fws.gov by May 24.

 

P.S. Thank you Turner Endangered Species Fund and Ladder Ranch Reserve!! You rock!!

 
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About The Author

Greta Anderson

Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project and lives on the land of the Tohono O'Odham and Yaqui people in what is now called Arizona. Greta's opinions and world views are not necessarily reflected in the posts of other authors on this blog.

13 Responses to Supporting Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch translocation of Mexican wolves

  1. avatar Maggie Frazier says:

    Well, guess we have to take every tiny bit of good we can get, right? At the very least, this little family isnt going to be slaughtered for no reason as so many have been. Nice to hear a little good news for a change. Keep plugging, Greta.
    I guess we who get our wildlife news here will do the same & keep commenting & sharing.
    And, Ted Turner and Ladder Ranch? So good to hear of a private individual who CARES about wildlife and cares enough to give some a home. Wolves AND bison – how about that?

  2. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    It’s the best alternative, and I hope that these wolves will be safe here, you never know. I know that Mr. Turner had some resistance to bring back bison too, so you never know.

    I’m still smarting from the administrations 30 x 30 proposal proclaiming how much ranching does for conservation, so they have at least one example to hold up.

  3. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I thank you, Greta, and all the hard work you do for our wolves, and Mr. Turner.

  4. avatar Daniella Lednicer says:

    Thank you! After all the bad news regarding the fate of wolves this past year, I feel a little bit hopeful now

  5. avatar Janine Higgins says:

    Thank you for the report. Where (approximately) were 1693 and 1728 when they were removed? And, where (approximately) is Ladder ranch?
    Thank you!
    Janine Higgins
    Co-founder, Friends of Buenos Aires NWR

  6. avatar Fred aziz says:

    Thank you so much for what you are doing for these wolves it’s so important I really thank you so much

  7. avatar Ken Bzik says:

    Outstanding

  8. avatar Kelsey says:

    Please allow and protect the wolves. They are so essential and important to our American heritage. They have every right to exist.

  9. avatar Chris Harbin says:

    It would be better if they would allow Mexican Wolves on the North Kaibab NF. Excellent habitat for Wolves and fewer potential clashes with people.

  10. avatar rastadoggie says:

    I thought of wolves and your excellent informative writing constantly when I was in Catron County NM recently. I expected it to be a nut job, hard right community but their County newspaper had articles on sustainability and land connection and gardening. So good people in the mix too I hope. It meant a lot to me to know that wolves were out there, in wild places, hopefully holding their own.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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