WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that listing the Mexican gray wolf as an endangered subspecies or a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) is not warranted because the wolf is already protected under a broader gray wolf listing, the agency announced in its 12-month petition finding.
The Center for Biological Diversity requested the wolf be listed as an endangered subspecies or DPS, while a petition filed jointly by the WildEarth Guardians and The Rewilding Institute requested a listing as an endangered subspecies with a critical habitat designation, the regulation stated.
"The Mexican wolf is currently listed as endangered within the broader 1978 gray wolf listing, as revised, which listed the gray wolf in the lower 48 States and Mexico.
"As part of the agency's commitment to Mexican wolf recovery, the Service is in the process of revising and updating the Mexican wolf recovery plan, which is expected to be released for public and peer review in 2013," the agency said in a statement.
The agency's previous attempt to separate the gray wolf into three distinct population segments was invalidated by the U.S. District Courts in Oregon and Vermont, the action said.
Currently, the Mexican wolf only exists in the wild where it has been reintroduced. The population has hovered between 40 and 60 wolves since 2003 and was estimated at 58 in 2011, up from none in the late 1990's, the finding noted.
Reintroduced Mexican wolves face mortality mainly through human actions such as vehicular collision, illegal shooting and removal from the wild for management purposes, according to the action.
"There is no indication in the Endangered Species Act that Congress intended the Service to list separately each of the constituent subspecies or DPSs encompassed within a broader listed entity, and it has been the consistent practice of the Service not to do so," the agency said, while also noting that it could not remove protections without putting a separate listing in place.
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