The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that the best available science is used in guiding recovery of America’s threatened and endangered species. While this is clear, what constitutes the best available science is often left unclear. Certainly this is the case with the Mexican wolf, as there are seemingly two different bodies of science, and depending on an individual or an organizational view, one of these sciences is tightly held and the other rejected.
The origins of each of these differing sciences are based on different efforts at revising the 1982 Mexican wolf recovery plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recognized that the 1982 plan needed updating, as much of the information used was outdated and lacked real targets for recovery. In 2010, USFWS initiated another effort (the third) to revise the 1982 Plan. A portion of the Recovery Team, the Science and Planning Subgroup (Subgroup), was charged with building the science foundation for the planned revision. The Subgroup’s analysis relied on demographic information from other wolf populations, most notably the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and had limited data from Mexican wolves in the wild.