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Emily Yehle, E&E reporter
Published: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Conservation groups plan to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service over the recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, arguing that the agency does not have an adequate road map to help the species survive.

The wolf was nearly wiped out in the early 1970s, prompting efforts to rebuild the population. Today, about 83 live in the wild.

The groups assert that FWS has dragged its feet in drafting a new recovery plan, leaving a 1983 plan in place. The agency last drafted a plan in 2011, which called for three interconnected populations totaling at least 750 animals, according to a press release from the groups.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s more than three-decade failure to develop a science-based recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf is a travesty,” Michael Robinson, a Mexican wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The absence of a recovery plan has hurt the Mexican wolf, leaving this unique subspecies perilously close to the brink and suffering from genetic inbreeding and consequent lower pup births and survival.”

Earthjustice will file the lawsuit on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, retired Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center.

The announcement comes less than two months after FWS released a proposed rule that would expand the boundaries of the wolf population so its numbers can increase. Environmental groups welcomed the larger range, but they criticized a new provision clarifying when states and ranchers can kill a wolf (Greenwire, July 25).