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Monday, June 24, 2024

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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

More lobos roam NM wilderness, but genetic diversity is missing

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Monday, March 25, 2024   

Since a reintroduction campaign began in 1998, about 10 Mexican gray wolves have been placed in the Southwest each year, and for them to further thrive, experts said genetic diversity is critical.

Gray wolves once roamed not just New Mexico but Texas and Arizona. Due to persecution and poisoning, they all but disappeared from the landscape in the 1970s.

Craig Miller, senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said in recent years, a cooperative effort among ranchers and conservationists has boosted wolf numbers from zero to more than 250.

"This will be the 26th anniversary of having the rarest, most critically-endangered wolf in the world on the ground, in the wild," Miller pointed out. "We're trying to make sure recovery unfolds according to the way science said it needs to be successful."

Miller noted the population has been growing for eight consecutive years but the species' biggest long-term threat is a lack of genetic diversity. He emphasized the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico continues to block wildlife movement and habitat connectivity, exacerbating the genetic isolation of the two existing populations.

Since 1998, Miller stressed the unproductive mentality of "us versus them, wolves versus cows, ranchers versus environmentalists" has diminished, creating a win not just for wolves but grizzly bears, jaguars and other controversial carnivores.

"That's really what puts the fuel in the tank to move this program forward," Miller observed. "Tolerance and problem-solving, you know, conflict reduction."

He added cooperation has eased tensions between those in favor and those against repopulating wolves but is still a challenging issue.

"While wolves are always going to be controversial, the goal is not for ranchers to warmly embrace wolves or to wear 'Defenders of Wolves' T-shirts," Miller said. "It is to tolerate wolves that aren't causing problems, and to take steps to reduce those problems from arising in the first place."

Defenders has a successful program, which provides college students with hands-on wildlife management experience and a goal of increasing the wolf population while emphasizing conflict prevention.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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