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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 11:59 AM
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Group Challenges Wolf Recovery Program

Group Challenges Wolf Recovery Program

December 15, 2006 By Sue Major Holmes, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An environmental group went to court Thursday in an effort to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand a program to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico and Arizona.

The Center for Biological Diversity, which has offices in both states, alleged in a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., that Fish and Wildlife has refused to implement recommendations of a scientific panel that reviewed the program.

The "hostility toward science is undermining the wolf recovery program," the center said.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Vickie Fox of the agency's Albuquerque office said federal officials haven't had a chance to review the lawsuit and do not in general comment on pending litigation.

However, she added: "Making critical management decisions for a program that has complex social impacts while ensuring that wolves return to their natural world takes time, and the service does not take its decision-making process lightly. It is committed to the cooperative effort for recovery of Mexican wolves in the wild."

Federal biologists began releasing wolves on the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range after it had been hunted to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s.

The program encompasses 4.4 million acres of the Gila and Apache Sitgreaves national forests on the Arizona-New Mexico border and the 1.6 million-acre White Mountain Apache reservation.

The lawsuit seeks to force Fish and Wildlife to expand the area where wolves are allowed and to permit them to be released directly onto the Gila. Currently, wolves initially are released only in Arizona.
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