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Service Completes Evaluation of Proposed Changes to Mexican Wolf Experimental Population in Arizona and New Mexico
Final Environmental Impact Statement Outlines Steps to Increase Range and Genetic Diversity, Mitigate Impacts to Ranchers and Native Ungulates
After reviewing extensive public comments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its evaluation of proposed changes to its Mexican wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico that will allow greater flexibility to conserve one of the nation’s rarest mammals and greater responsiveness to the needs of local communities in cases of problem wolf behavior.
In releasing its final Environmental Impact Statement (fEIS) on new provisions proposed under the Endangered Species Act in 2013 and revised last summer, the Service sets the stage for a final decision on the changes in the program in January 2015.
“We have received and analyzed more than 40,000 comments on the proposed changes as part of developing the Environmental Impact Statement, as well as consulted with state agencies, tribes, and other stakeholders,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “We believe the preferred alternative strikes the best balance in terms of what is needed to re-establish a genetically diverse wolf population while supporting the interests of other stakeholders on a working landscape."
In the final EIS, the Service evaluates four alternatives for proposed revisions to the regulations for the nonessential experimental population of the Mexican wolf including a preferred alternative that would include:
Expanding the areas within which Mexican wolves can be released, translocated, disperse and occupy. In Arizona, management activities would be methodically phased west of Highway 87 over a period of up to 12 years,