Mexican Gray Wolf FAQ
I heard there have been some recent changes regarding the status of the Mexican Gray Wolf; what does this mean for Texas, and what was TPWD’s role?
- On January 12, 2015, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the final Revision to the Regulations for the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This revises the regulations in the 1998 Nonessential Experimental Population designation rule and more successfully implement the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico.
- USFWS has also extended the authority of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) research and recovery permit to areas that are outside of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA).
- USFWS listed the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies (Canis lupus baileyi) under the ESA.
What does this mean in Texas?
- The revisions to the Nonessential Experimental Population Rule (Section 10(j)) replaced the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area with the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA). The new MWEPA includes 3 recovery zones that establish management and reintroduction guidelines for the Mexican gray wolf. Texas does NOT fall within any of the 3 zones created in the new MWEPA and, therefore, wolves may not be released or reintroduced in Texas under this rule.
- The revisions to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s research and recovery permit (Section 10(a)(1)(A)) allows USFWS to capture wolves that naturally disperse into Texas and return them to the MWEPA.
- If a Mexican gray wolf naturally disperses into Texas from the MWEPA, then it is protected as an endangered species under the ESA; however, the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program will capture and return the wolf to the MWEPA under their Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit.
What was TPWD’s Role?
- These changes are a Federal action taken by the USFWS under the ESA. TPWD provided comments to the proposed changes, but we did not have any decision-making authority regarding this action.
Should ranchers or other landowners be concerned about gray wolves coming to Texas?
- Currently, there are approximately 83 wolves within the MWEPA and the majority of those wolves are along the Arizona/New Mexico border. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Program uses radio telemetry to monitor wolf packs on a monthly basis and, according to their reports, the nearest wolf pack, which includes only a few wolves, is 150+ miles from El Paso, TX. Mexican gray wolves are usually found in pine-dominated habitats at elevations above 6,500 ft and the average dispersal distance for gray wolves is approximately 25 miles. Given the fact that there is minimal suitable habitat within Texas and there are significant dispersal barriers between the nearest wolf pack and the Texas border, which significantly limits their potential dispersal corridors, we do not anticipate that wolves will recolonize Texas from neighboring states or countries in the near future.
If a gray wolf strays into to Texas, what should a landowner do?
- In the unlikely scenario that a wolf strays into Texas, the updated rules calls for the public to immediately communicate any report of possible wolf depredation on domestic livestock or pets to the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Interagency Field Team in Arizona at (928) 339-4329.
Where do I find more information?
- Links to official publications and documents about the Mexican gray wolf can be found on the USFWS’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.
- Landowners or others with general questions can contact the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program Coordinator at the USFWS Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque at (505) 761-4748.
- Texas landowners or others who wish to contact TPWD may contact the Wildlife Division regional office in Alpine, Texas, (432) 837-2051.