PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is assessing potential impacts to Arizona’s endangered and threatened wildlife recovery program, following a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that lifts a preliminary injunction on releasing Mexican wolves in New Mexico.
The court decision issued Tuesday held that the State of New Mexico had not met the legal standard for a preliminary injunction because it did not demonstrate that releasing Mexican wolves without state permits will cause irreparable injury to the state. The ruling reverses a U.S. District Court decision last summer that prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from importing or releasing any Mexican wolves in New Mexico without first obtaining permits from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.
“The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department are evaluating the potential ramifications of the Appellate Court’s decision for Arizona’s wolf recovery program,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for Wildlife Management. “Our agency remains committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our other partners to ensure Arizona has a voice in providing direction for the program, based on sound science and boots-on-the-ground research.”
The case now returns to U.S. District Court for a decision on whether New Mexico can require the USFWS to obtain state permits before releasing wolves.
There were a minimum of 113 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico in 2016, according to a recent survey by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team. The survey found that there were 63 wolves in Arizona and 50 in New Mexico.
In 2015, there were an estimated 97 wolves were counted in the wild between both states.