Arizona Approves MOU for Mexican Wolf Reintroduction
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission approved participation in a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will guide Mexican wolf reintroduction in Arizona and New Mexico.
Arizona has participated in collaborative wolf conservation under several previous MOUs, which designated the Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service, White Mountain Apache Tribe, and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services as lead agencies for the project. Signatory cooperators included Greenlee, Navajo and Graham counties in Arizona, Sierra and Otero counties in New Mexico, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believed the last MOU, approved in 2003, expired in 2008. Although all other signatories continued to operate under the 2003 MOU without the USFWS, the new MOU brings the agency back into the formal partnership, which is considered a crucial step in re-establishing a viable framework for interagency collaboration to make progress on the reintroduction effort.
The new MOU must now be approved by the other potential signatories before it is complete.
Arizona's involvement in Mexican wolf conservation began in the mid-1980s, with exploration of the feasibility of reintroducing wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selected the Blue Range area in east-central Arizona as the reintroduction site, and the first 11 captive-reared wolves were released there in 1998. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area encompasses east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico. The Fort Apache Indian Reservation also plays an integral part in the reintroduction effort.