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We’re Going to Court to Fight for the Mexican Gray Wolf’s Survival

This page was published a year ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

Mexican gray wolves are among the most endangered mammals in the U.S. Yet the federal government has failed multiple times to come up with an adequate, science-based plan to manage their population. Now conservation groups are taking U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to court to force it to provide for the species’ survival. Earthjustice is providing legal representation to the groups as part of its work to halt the biodiversity crisis.

What just happened

  • The groups suing Fish and Wildlife Service are Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife.
  • Their lawsuit argues that FWS’s new management rule fails to respond to ongoing genetic threats to Mexican gray wolves, sets an inadequate population target, and cuts wolves off from essential recovery habitat.
  • Mexican gray wolves, which are also known as lobos, have historically lived across the southwest of the U.S. and Mexico. Fewer than 200 of the wolves survive in the wild today.

Why it matters

  • Hunting and trapping in the 20th century decimated Mexican gray wolves, which have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1976.
  • During that time, FWS has repeatedly — and illegally — failed to follow top scientists’ recommendations about how to restore the wolves.
  • The same conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, won a legal challenge to a previous Mexican gray wolf management rule in 2018. The court gave FWS until July 1, 2022 to fix that rule’s defects.
  • The new rule is still inadequate, so we’re back in court.
  • The plight of the lobo is part of a worrisome global pattern: Scientists predict that on our current trajectory, nearly 40% of all species will face extinction by 2100.
  • Restoring populations of top predators can help rebalance and heal entire ecosystems, as scientists saw with wolves in Yellowstone in the 1990s.

What happens next

Our lawsuit asks the court to tell FWS to:

  • reassess the environmental impact of its management rule
  • rewrite the rule itself to legitimately provide for Mexican wolf recovery

To sustain the earth’s biodiversity, we’ll need new protections and better enforcement of the existing ones. Learn more by reading this explainer: What is the Biodiversity Crisis?

F1143, a Mexican gray wolf. The howl of the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) — the “lobo” of Southwestern lore — is an iconic symbol of the West.
F1143, a Mexican gray wolf. The howl of the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) — the “lobo” of Southwestern lore — is an iconic symbol of the West. (Wolf Conservation Center)