Mexican gray wolves will receive more government protections after Wildlife Services, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released a new set of standards to determine the cause of livestock deaths in Arizona and New Mexico.
To protect the endangered Mexican gray wolves from government killings, the new set of standards will require more evidence that the livestock animal was alive during the wolf encounter along with additional indicators of wolf involvement.
“Our small, but beautiful wolf subspecies, the Mexican wolf, bears the burden of so much undeserved hatred,” Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “Wildlife Services has a responsibility to not only accurately determine the cause of livestock death, but also to help dispel the myths surrounding wolves and promote strategies that avoid conflicts.”
These new standards in the Southwest are “the same standards that Wildlife Services and other state agencies, including Montana, Wisconsin, Oregon and Idaho, use to confirm gray wolf involvement in livestock deaths,” according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
“It’s appalling that the U.S. Department of Agriculture blames endangered Mexican gray wolves for killing cows that died of something completely different,” Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “I’m glad they’re tightening standards for determining the causes of cattle mortality, but the government should go further and require that ranchers properly dispose of dead cattle to protect both wolves and livestock.”
According to a review of five years of predation reports by the Western Watersheds Project, poor data collection and illogical conclusions exposed “an unjustifiably high rate of blaming wolves for the deaths of livestock on public lands.” And Wildlife Services’ “unscientific and unsupportable reports” were atop the “corruption in the livestock deaths reporting program,” according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Our goal has been to make sure that Mexican gray wolves aren’t being unfairly blamed for livestock depredation,” Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, said. “The over-reported incidence of wolf involvement in cattle deaths in the Southwest has had negative impacts on the wolf recovery program, including the killing and capture of wild wolves. We’re hoping the new standards help prevent that from happening again.”