The Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves into the wild from captivity in 1998 as part of the recovery effort for the Mexican wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service designated the reintroduction area as the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) and established management measures under section 10(j) of the ESA for these wolves in a final rule, Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico.
In 2015, the Service revised the original 1998 designation of the MWEPA in a final rule, Revision to the Regulations for the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). The Service analyzed the revisions in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Revision to the Regulations for the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi).
The revisions included expanding the area for Mexican wolf occupancy in Arizona and New Mexico, including the area for release of wolves from captivity, increasing the number of Mexican wolves in the MWEPA, establishing new management zones, and revising and adding new management measures to improve management flexibility.
In 2018, the District Court of Arizona remanded the 2015 final rule. The ruling directs the Service to redress several components of the rule to ensure the experimental population contributes to long-term Mexican wolf conservation and recovery. The ruling established a deadline of May 1, 2021 to publish a revised, final rule. However, due to delays associated with the process, the Service requested and received an extended deadline of July 1, 2022. Our 2015 final rule will remain in place until we publish a new, revised rule.