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MUIRNet NewsWashington, DC– U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) today introduced the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan Act to direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to publish the first revised recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico in 34 years. As a result of the 1982 Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan, an experimental population of wolves were placed in Arizona and New Mexico and since that time, land owners and public officials have voiced concern about the program.

This legislation would require that the USFWS work with state and local entities to ensure they have input in the drafting of a new recovery plan. In addition, if the USFWS does not comply with the plan, then Arizona and New Mexico are able to supplement or assume management of the recovery process. This bill also includes a provision that would require automatic delisting of the Mexican gray wolf as an endangered species once conservation goals have been reached.

“This is an important issue to Arizona, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to consider the effects the Mexican gray wolf population has on the people of Arizona and our economy when revising the outdated recovery plan,” said Flake. “I am pleased to introduce this legislation with Senator McCain that would look to landowners and public officials to build a plan and increase state involvement in the recovery and management of the wolf population.”   

“Despite the federal government spending more than $20 million dollars on the Mexican gray wolf program over the last 18 years, it still hasn’t reached its stated population goal of 100 wolves,” said McCain. “This bill would provide state wildlife authorities and ranchers a stronger decision-making role in the reintroduction and management of the Mexican gray wolf, and put the program on a path towards being state-led and more responsive to local stakeholders on the ground.”

Background: On April 26, Arizona courts reached a settlement with the USFWS to establish a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf by Nov. 2017.

On Feb. 1, Flake introduced an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act that would require the immediate delisting of the wolf.

On April 7, Flake along with McCain and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chris Steward (R-Utah), and Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Director Daniel Ashe calling for a fair consideration of management that would bolster a binational approach to handling the Mexican gray wolf population.

On Dec. 21, 2014 Flake and McCain requested an extension of the comment period on the final Environmental Impact Statement of the revised Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. The request gave an extended 30-day public review of the program.

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