Editorial: Let the wolves into the wild
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials want to release up to 10 raised-in-captivity Mexican gray wolves, a move that has been rejected by the Department of Game and Fish. That decision has been appealed to the State Game Commission, which will be deciding the matter today at a meeting in Albuquerque. (The meeting, at Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, begins at 9 a.m., but wolf enthusiasts plan to rally at 8 a.m.)
Releasing more wolves into the wild is essential in adding genetic diversity to the wild population. The department should have allowed the release, and the commissioners should overturn the initial decision. That likely won’t happen, given the commission’s recent spate of decisions against carnivores.
Commissioners’ decisions have made it easier to hunt and kill cougars and bears. They denied a permit to Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch to aid in the federal wolf recovery program by providing pen space — a reversal of 17 years of a program that worked. This clearly is a Game Commission hostile to wild animals.
Should the commission not allow the release of additional wolves, we trust that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bosses will use the Endangered Species Act to force New Mexico’s hand. Under federal law, the United States is charged with protecting the endangered wolves and striving to ensure their survival. Only 110 Mexican gray wolves are believed to be roaming in our state and neighboring Arizona.
For the wolves to thrive, a more diverse DNA is necessary. Releasing these wolves — born in captivity but ready to take to the wilderness — is essential to the survival of a species. New Mexico is not alone in trying to block the release of these wolves; Arizona also is dragging its feet.
Such short-sightedness on the state level must be fought by aggressive federal action. If the states won’t do the right thing by wolves, the federal government must act, using its authority under the Endangered Species Act. Humans pushed the wolf to extinction. By acting wisely, humans can restore the wolf to its rightful place. Release the wolves, with or without state approval.
This editorial was published by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
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- At last official count, only 110 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world. Actions such as NM Game Commission’s unwarranted denial of release permits will only further complicate efforts to recover these rare wolves.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the authority and the responsibility to do what is needed to recover these highly endangered wolves. The Service can, and should, override the state’s wrong-minded actions and release wolves to boost the wild population’s genetic health as soon as possible.
- It is high time that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe stop trying to appease state agencies that are hostile to wolves and other wildlife and enforced the Endangered Species Act.
- Mexican gray wolves are beautiful, intelligent animals that belong in the Southwest.
- The actions of Governor Martinez’s Game Commission to prevent the recovery of Mexican gray wolves are irresponsible and violate the public trust.
- The New Mexico Game Commission, under Governor Martinez, has clearly become a tool of a small anti-wolf minority and its actions are out of touch with the majority of New Mexico voters who support wolf recovery and understand the important role top carnivores play in our ecosystems.
- Wolves are a benefit to the West and are essential to restoring the balance of nature. Actions to interfere with the Mexican gray wolf’s survival and recovery cheat us all of the opportunity to have wolves returned to their critical natural role.
- Mexican gray wolves are unique native animals. They are the rarest, most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. State and federal agencies should do all in their power to move these special wolves away from extinction towards recovery. Instead, Martinez's Game Commission has chosen play politics with the wolves’ future.
- 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. New Mexico stands to benefit from wolf-related tourism, but only if the Mexican wolf reintroduction is allowed to succeed.
- The state is putting up roadblocks that could doom our lobos, but the feds are also dragging their feet on recovery. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should move forward with releases of adult wolves and families and should establish two new Mexican wolf populations north of I-40, as scientists have urged.
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Please contact New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and request that she put an end to her Commission’s anti-carnivore state wildlife policies and grant the Mexican wolf permits to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to Ladder Ranch, and reform her Game Commission.
Calls are most effective: 505-476-2200 The Governor's office may try to tell you to contact the Commission. Please tell them politely, but firmly, that Governor Martinez is responsible for the actions of her Game Commission and your message is for her.
You can also sign a petition to the Governor here.
Please contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe as well. Even before Arizona and New Mexico decided to block releases of wolves into the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dragged its feet on releasing new wolves from captivity. Instead of deferrring to the states, the Service should do its job and expedite the release of many more wolves into the wild.
I am calling to urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exercise its federal authority over the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction and stop allowing state game commissions in New Mexico and Arizona to undermine wolf recovery. The Service should be doing all in its power to ensure the recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves. Please expedite the release of adult wolves and wolf families to improve the wild population’s genetic health, rather than relying on risky cross-fostering, and stop giving in to state wildlife agencies made up of hostile special interests.
Calls are most effective. Just tell the person who answers that you have a message for Director Ashe: 202-208-4717
Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.fws.gov/duspit/contactus.htm
Thank you for speaking out for Lobos!