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In the News: Fish & Wildlife wants to hear your ideas on Wolf program changes

The White Mountain Independent, October 29, 2013  (posted 11/02/13)

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HON-DAH — Proposed changes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife gray wolf reintroduction and management plans offers something for folks on both sides of the controversial issue to dislike.

Even the plans for public hearings on the proposals drew vehement criticism for failing to include a hearing in Arizona where wolves are initially released and most of the program’s activity takes place. The agency had initially scheduled hearings in Washington, DC, Albuquerque and Sacramento, Calif. Following the government shutdown, apparently in response to the howls of complaint, Fish and Wildlife has now scheduled a hearing in Denver, Colo. and one in Arizona in addition to the Sacramento and Albuquerque sessions. The hearing in Denver is set for Nov. 19, Albuquerque is set for Nov. 20; and Sacramento is Nov. 22.

Fish and Wildlife’s hearing in Arizona is set for Dec. 3 at the Hon-Dah Resort Casino Conference Center. The meeting is a two-part session. From 3:30 to 5 p.m. there will be an informational presentation. The public hearing part of the session will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m.

Apparently in acknowledgement of the controversy surrounding the wolf reintroduction program, Fish and Wildlife is imposing security measures at the hearings including metal detectors, visual inspection of purses and bags and anyone in costume will be asked to remove masks or other head coverings and pass through a metal detector. No one will be allowed to bring in food, beverages or weapons.

The agency is proposing to lift Endangered Species Act protection of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region, retaining federal protection only for the Mexican gray wolf which the agency now says is a sub-species. Not surprisingly, environmental groups are vigorously opposing the de-listing of the northern gray wolves.

The estimated population of gray wolves in the lower 48 states of the U.S. is 6,181 in three distinct populations: Northern Rockies, 1,674; the western Great Lakes, 4,432; and the population of the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico is estimated to be at least 75. There are also some 300 Mexican wolves held in captivity at facilities around the nation. It is estimated that there are 70,000 gray wolves in North America, most are in Canada and Alaska.

In addition to the listing changes, Fish and Wildlife is proposing changes to the way it manages the Mexican gray wolves: greatly expanding the area where the wolves may be initially released, expanding the range where they may live and some minor changes to the rules, some of which would clarify or relax the rules on killing the animals in defense of pets and livestock.

The proposed rule changes would expand the area for wolves to range to include the southern two-thirds of Arizona and New Mexico. Currently the range includes only the Apache and Gila forests.

Opponents of the wolf program – primarily hunting clubs and organizations, ranchers and their allies – object to any hint of an expansion of wolf numbers or territory.

The two proposed changes were published in the Federal Register on June 13. The public comment periods that were due to close on Sept. 11 have now been extended through 11:59 p.m. Dec. 17. Oral comments will be recorded at the hearings. To learn more about the proposed rules, view the draft Federal Register notice with the details of the public hearings, and for links to submit comments to the public record, visit www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery


This article was published in the White Mountain Independent on October 29, 2013.

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Please Act to Save the Lobo!

Here are two ways you can help these critically endangered Mexican wolves:


1. Submit a letter to the Editor of The White Mountain Independent to ensure the future of critically endangered Mexican gray wolves today!

One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers.  Tips and talking points are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Don’t try to include all the talking points in your letter.

Talking points

Start by thanking the paper for this article.
The USFWS should designate Mexican gray wolves as essential. By labeling all of the wild wolves as “nonessential” the USFWS ignores science and the reality of 15 years of experience with reintroducing wolves.

The 75 wolves in the wild have up to four generations of experience in establishing packs and raising pups.  These fourth generation wild lobos are not expendable and are essential to recovering this unique subspecies of wolf.

The USFWS should move forward with allowing new wolves to be released throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered mammal in the U.S. with only about 75 in the wild.  Additional wolves must be released into the wild now to increase the genetic health of the species. Numerous wolves are in captive breeding facilities around the country, prepared for, and awaiting, release.

The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan at the same time as or before changing the current rule.  USFWS admits that their 1982 recovery plan is not scientifically sound and does not meet current legal requirements – yet in its proposed rule USFWS continues to emphasize a woefully inadequate population of only 100 wolves in the wild.  The proposed rule puts the cart before the horse and should come with or after – not before – an updated recovery plan

Wolves once lived throughout Arizona and New Mexico and played a critical role in keeping the balance of nature in place. We need to restore this important animal that has been missing for too long.

Wolves need freedom from boundaries. Given room to roam, the wolves will establish themselves in suitable areas with adequate game. The USFWS proposal does not allow wolves to establish new packs and populations in additional areas that are essential to their recovery.  Capturing and moving wolves is always a risky business that can result in death or trauma to the wolf.

Additional populations of Mexican wolves are necessary to their recovery and genetic health, as is the ability for wolves to move between populations.
The likelihood of being hurt by a wolf is almost non-existent. In rural areas, people are far more likely to be harmed by things accepted as part of daily life, such as domestic dogs, livestock, or off-road vehicles. Mexican wolves are small, weighing 50-85 pounds, and tend to avoid people.

While giving Mexican wolves their own Endangered Species Act listing is long overdue, delisting gray wolves throughout the U.S. is counter to protecting Mexican wolves
. The  proposed rule will leave gray wolves unprotected in places that scientists have said are needed for Mexican wolf recovery, making it more difficult to protect Mexican gray wolves even if they are allowed to expand into new areas.

Make sure you:

- Thank the paper for publishing this article.

- Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.)

- Provide your name, address, phone number and address.  The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.

Submit your letter here.


2. Submit comments on the USFWS proposal that threatens the survival and recovery of Mexican wolves.

Public comments are being accepted through December 17, 2013.  Part of the proposal could help get more wolves into the wild, but most of it threatens the Mexican wolf’s continued survival and recovery.

Your comments are needed to help lobos survive
beyond the current crisis.

Talking points and information on how to submit your comments are here.


You can read the Fish and Wildlife Service Rule Proposal here.


Thank you for everything you do to save these beautiful, intelligent animals from extinction!


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