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In the News: Feds: Wolf No Longer at Risk

Salt Lake Tribune, June 7, 2013  (Posted 06/11/13)

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Delisting - Government says the mission to restore the population of gray wolves has been accomplished.

By Brian Maffly

In a decision hoped to close one of the West’s most contentious debates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared mission accomplished for recovering the gray wolf, the predator government officials had exterminated from the West nearly a century ago.

The agency has concluded wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. On Friday, federal authorities proposed delisting the wolf, but insisted the Mexican gray wolf remain listed as an endangered subspecies.

While sportsmen’s groups and state wildlife officials praised the delisting move, conservationists expressed dismay, saying the gray wolf has yet to return to much of its native range in the Pacific Northwest and southern Rockies.

The proposal to keep listing the Mexican gray wolf is sure to raise concerns in the Beehive State since some biologists believe southern Utah is within Mexican wolves’ historic range. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources denies this, while politicians have alleged federal authorities are bent on introducing Mexican wolves in the state.

To justify delisting, federal officials point to the gray wolves’ remarkable rebound since the animal was reintroduced in the Northern Rockies in 1995.

"An exhaustive review of the latest scientific and taxonomic information shows that we have accomplished that goal with the gray wolf, allowing us to focus our work ... on recovery of the Mexican wolf subspecies in the Southwest," Dan Ashe, Fish and Wildlife Service director, said in a news release.

But conservationists say the job is far from complete and that it is unlikely wolf populations will thrive because Western states regard wolves as a threat to agriculture, rather than a key part of a functioning ecosystem.

"Stopping now before the population is fully recovered will negate the decades of hard work that have gone into bringing wolves back from the brink of extinction. Without federal protections, this symbol of our wild heritage will slide back into harm’s way," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a news release.

But leading sportsmen say it’s time to declare victory in wolf recovery and graduate the species to state-based management.

"We support the administration’s decision to advance science-based, responsible wildlife management that speaks to the values of sportsmen across the nation," said Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

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This article was published by the Salt Lake Tribune.
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Please submit a letter to the editor expressing
support for Mexican gray wolves!


The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers.

Some talking points for your letter are below-remember that it will be most effective written in your own words, from your own experience.  Your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to info@mexicanwolves.org.


Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points

Start by thanking the paper for the story. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.

Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.

Point out that the scientists whose research is referenced in the draft rule to remove the gray wolves' protections have stated in a recent letter that the science does not support the delisting.

Express your support for relisting Mexican wolves as an endangered subspecies and point out that delisting gray wolves throughout the U.S. is counter to protecting Mexican wolves. Fewer than 80 Mexican gray wolves exist in the wild. New populations of these wolves are desperately needed for them to thrive. But the draft plan would leave gray wolves unprotected in places where this endangered subspecies could and should live. This will make protection of Mexican gray wolves much more difficult should they expand into Utah or Colorado and make it unlikely that any wolves will be able to naturally reestablish a presence in the Southern Rockies, a region with excellent suitable habitat where wolves were once found.

Stress that the majority of Arizona and New Mexico residents support wolves and understand their importance.  Polling done by Research and Polling, Inc. found 77 percent of Arizona respondents and 69% of NM respondents support the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves. The poll also showed strong majority support for giving wolves greater protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife
. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters. Science has repeatedly demonstrated that wolves are keystone carnivores who help to keep wildlife like elk and deer healthy and bring balance to the lands they inhabit.

Thank you for taking action today for wolves!
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Photo credit: Rebecca Bose, Wolf Conservation Center