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In the News: Arizona Senate OKs killing of endangered wolves

AZ Daily Star 4/16/14

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By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

State lawmakers voted today to let ranchers shoot the Mexican gray wolves being reintroduced to the Southwest despite their listing under federal law as endangered.

On a 16-12 vote the Senate approved legislation that allows a livestock operator or agent to kill a wolf on public lands if in self defense or the defense of others. The only requirement under HB 2699 is that the act must be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In separate action the House gave final approval to SB 1211. Its permission to kill wolves on public lands is broader, extending that to any wolf engaged in killing, wounding or biting livestock. And it also allows dogs which guard livestock to kill wolves.

The 37-22 vote came over the objections of Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson.

"We nearly destroyed the buffalo years ago," she told colleagues, evoking the image of herds of animals shot and left to rot on the Great Plains. "We're about to do this to the Mexican wolves. We don't have to keep repeat[ing] the tragic mistakes of history."

And Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Phoenix, said there are "more humane" alternatives to having ranchers kill the wolves. He said that New Mexico, for example, has set up a fund to reimburse ranchers for lost livestock.

That actually is part of HB 2699, though there are no actual funds to do that. Instead, the legislation tells the attorney general to seek funds from the federal government to pay the ranchers for their losses. But it also says that if the federal government doesn't come up with the money, the Legislature will consider a measure to require that Mexican wolves be restricted to federally controlled lands and removed from state and private lands.

Much of the debate concerns whether wolves, which everyone admits were here until at least 1930, should be reintroduced to Arizona.*

This article was published in the AZ Daily Star on April 16, 2014.

*Note: Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced to Arizona in 1998 and have lived in southeastern AZ for over 16 years.
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Please Act Today to stop
anti-wolf bills!

You can help by contacting Arizona's Governor and your Arizona Legislators and by submitting letters to the editor .

If you don’t live in AZ, you can still help by submitting a letter to the editor.

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. Tips and talking points for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. These are also good talking points for contacting your legislators.

Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
  • At last official count, only 37 Mexican gray wolves were found in AZ, and only 83 were found total in the wild, making them critically endangered. We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to ensure their recovery and not push them closer to extinction as these bills aim to do.
  • The proposed legislation will waste taxpayer money on litigation to impede wolf recovery and embarrass the state by attempting to illegally override federal laws that protect endangered species.
  • Polling showed 77% of Arizona voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Legislation to impede wolf recovery is a slap in the face to the majority of voters who want wolves to thrive.
  • Mexican wolves are native to Arizona and were reintroduced in Arizona over 16 years ago. They are part of our natural heritage and we should do everything we can to protect them, rather than trying to again extirpate them.
  • People who care about wolves should call on AZ's Governor and their AZ Legislators to oppose anti-wolf measures. Information about how to do that can be found HERE.
  • 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.
  • Wolves generate economic benefits - a University of Montana study found that visitors who come to see wolves in Yellowstone contribute roughly $35.5 million annually to the regional economy.
  • Wolves once lived throughout Arizona 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.
  • The livestock industry has a responsibility to share public lands with wolves and other wildlife. Funds are available to help livestock growers implement nonlethal deterrents, better animal husbandry practices, and other innovative tools that minimize conflict.
Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for publishing the article.
  • Do not repeat any negative messages, such as “cows may have been killed by wolves, but…” Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article.
  • Keep your letter brief, less than 170 words, the limit for letters to the AZ Daily Star.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a 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. http://dynamic.azstarnet.com/letters/?type=letters
Please also contact  the Governor and your AZ Legislators directly and tell them politely that you expect them to oppose these bills that embarrass Arizona, waste taxpayer money and fly in the face of overwhelming majority public support for wolf recovery.

CLICK HERE for contact information and talking points.

Thank you for speaking out to save Mexican wolves!
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