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Western Wildway Newsletter December 2017

The Western Wildway Newsletter collects some of the news and accomplishments from our partners around the Wildway. This edition from December 2017 includes stories about the victory at Wolf Creek Pass, the victories of Western Environmental Law Center, and the successes of the partnership between Yellowstone to Unitas Connection, BLM and Forest Service.

Final Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, USFWS, First Revision

The final Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aims to establish and maintain a minimum of two resilient, genetically diverse Mexican wolf populations distributed across ecologically and
geographically diverse areas in the subspecies’ range in the United States and Mexico. The USFWS’s stated recovery goal is to conserve and protect the Mexican wolf and its habitat so that its longterm survival is secured, populations are capable of enduring threats, and it can be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Four Species on the Brink

This report summarizes the most relevant and up-to-date information on four charismatic species affected by the fragmentation of habitat and disruption of movement corridors resulting from the existing and proposed border infrastructure and associated militarization. It focuses on the Arizona-Sonora border and covers a small portion of western New Mexico’s border with Chihuahua, but its framework and broad themes are relevant to any evaluation of impacts to wildlife across the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexican Wolf Comments to USFWS from Wildlands Network

Wildlands Network responds to the USFWS’s draft plan for Mexican wolf recovery: Our immediate concern is the draft plan falls far short of the mark needed for recovery of these critically endangered wolves, and that these shortcomings are driven by politics rather than the science of wolf recovery. If implemented, it would allow fewer than half the number of wolves in the wild that most of the previous recovery team scientists say are needed in the U.S. for recovery—with another small isolated population in Mexico—at which time the states would assume full management responsibility for Lobo survival. The prospect of premature downlisting and delisting, exacerbated by the relevant states’ record opposing wolf recovery discussed below, affords a recipe for extinction—not recovery— for one of the most critically endangered wild mammals in North America.

Group Sign-On Letter: Oppose H.R. 3219 Security Minibus – Vote No on Border Wall

Wildlands Network signed on to this letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to vote no on funding for the continued construction of the border wall. Not only is the wall an ineffective tool at managing border migration, it will also irreparably harm biodiversity in the Rio Grande Valley. Nearly 90 environmental, faith, immigration, and civil rights organizations signed on to the letter opposing the border wall.

Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, USFWS, First Revision

The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is an endangered subspecies of gray wolf protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1976. Following the near extinction of the Mexican wolf due to predator eradication efforts in the mid to late 1800’s to mid-1900’s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico, and partner agencies initiated a binational captive breeding program with 7 wolves and began efforts to re-establish Mexican wolves in the wild in the United States (in 1998) and Mexico (in 2011). Our recovery strategy for the Mexican wolf is to establish and maintain a minimum of two resilient, genetically diverse Mexican wolf populations distributed across ecologically and geographically diverse areas in the subspecies’ range in the United States and Mexico.

Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, USFWS, First Revision (Spanish translation)

El lobo mexicano (Canis lupus baileyi) es una subespecie en peligro de extinción del lobo gris protegido por la Ley de especies en peligro de extinción (ESA, por sus siglas en inglés) desde 1976. Después de la casi extinción del lobo mexicano debido a los esfuerzos de erradicación de depredadores desde finales del siglo XIX a mediados del siglo XX, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, México, y organismos asociados, iniciaron un programa binacional de crianza en cautiverio con 7 lobos y comenzaron los esfuerzos para restablecer los lobos mexicanos en estado salvaje en los Estados Unidos (en 1998) y México (en 2011). Nuestra estrategia de recuperación para el lobo mexicano es establecer y mantener un mínimo de dos poblaciones resilientes de lobos mexicanos, genéticamente diversos distribuidas a través de áreas ecológica y geográficamente diversas en el rango de la subespecie en Estados Unidos y México.

Potential Jaguar Habitat and Structural Connectivity in and Surrounding the Northwestern Recovery Unit

The goal of this work was to map habitat and connectivity for jaguars (Panthera onca) in southern Arizona and the Northwestern Recovery Unit (NRU) study area. To do this, we followed the general approach outlined by Sanderson and Fisher (2011; 2013) but updated it using finer-grained spatial data and a gradient-based (rather than binary habitat/non-habitat) model using the same observational data on jaguars.

Wildlands Network Comments on the Jaguar Draft Recovery Plan

These comments were written in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s jaguar draft recovery plan, for which the notice of availability and request for comments was published in the Federal Register on December 20, 2016. As a continental conservation organization, Wildlands Network has an interest in the recovery of jaguars and the protection of jaguar habitat in both the United States and Mexico.

Borderlands Connectivity Report

In recent years, Mexican agencies, non-profit groups, and academia have all made efforts to better address connectivity needs in the borderlands region of Sonora and northeastern Chihuahua. Some actions have focused on identifying impacts of U.S. border infrastructure, others have advanced protected area regulations, while still others seek to reduce habitat fragmentation generated by roads with a focus on Highway 2.

This report is our first effort to put some of the information resulting from regulatory actions, wildlife-friendly infrastructure, and research activities, into a series of maps that allows us to identify areas of the highest immediate concern for connectivity along the U.S. border with Sonora and northwestern Chihuahua. Geographically explicit data are not as readily available as literature, so this effort cannot contain all existing research, nor does it cover all fauna impacted by the border wall. Rather, the report focuses on a few wide-ranging species for which data could be readily collected.