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In the News: Groups urge feds to release more Mexican wolves

Associated Press, October 8, 2015 – Letters Needed

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More than three dozen environmental groups asked the federal government Thursday to release at least five packs of Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico to bolster the genetics of the endangered predators.

The groups sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe.

The request came after New Mexico wildlife officials declined to issue permits to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for releases earlier this year in Gila National Forest. The agency also was denied a permit that would’ve cleared the way for more cross-fostering of captive pups by pairs in the wild.

The groups asked for federal officials to consult with independent scientists as well as state and local government entities to come up with a multi-year schedule for releasing wolves to address inbreeding within the wild population.

“Scientists warn that the lack of timely releases of wolves to the wild jeopardizes the recovery of this unique subspecies of the gray wolf and may doom it to extinction through inbreeding depression,” the letter states.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the wolf recovery effort, noted that improving the gene pool has been a driver for recent decisions aimed at expanding the program and that the agency has an obligation under the Endangered Species Act to recover the subspecies.

Members of the State Game Commission and the director of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department have voiced concerns about new releases because the federal government has yet to update its decades-old recovery plan for the species. It could be the end of 2017 before that happens.

The Game and Fish Department, which withdrew from the recovery program years ago, also claims federal officials haven’t done enough to analyze the social and economic effects of having more wolves on the landscape. Ranchers have been among the strongest critics, saying their communities and livelihoods are being threatened.

As part of the permit and appeal process, the Fish and Wildlife Service provided the state with numerous documents.

Despite the permit flap, the coordinator of the wolf program said last month that the agency plans to move ahead with releases given its statutory responsibilities.

There are at least 110 Mexican wolves roaming parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

Reintroduction started in 1998, but the effort has been hampered over the years by politics, illegal killings and other factors. Disputes over the program’s management also have spurred numerous legal actions.

This Associated Press article was published in multiple media outlets.

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Please take a stand for Mexican wolf recovery
with a letter to the editor!

The NM Game Commission is trying to halt the release of all Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico. We need to let the public know more about this outrageous action to sabotage lobo survival. Please take a stand now with 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.

TALKING POINTS:

  • 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.

LETTER WRITING TIPS

Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for this article and make sure to reference it in your LTE.
  • Submit your letter as soon as possible. The chance of your letter being published declines after a day or two since the article was published.
  • Do not repeat any negative messages, such as “so and so said that wolves kill too many cows, 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, no more than 200 words. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.” Don’t be afraid to be personal and creative.
  • 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 to the media outlets below. You can submit slightly altered versions of your letter to all of them.

Albuquerque Journal
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

Submit your letter to the Editor here.

Arizona Daily Star
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

The Durango Herald
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

San Francisco Gate
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

Seattle PI
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

Yuma Sun
Submit your letter to the Editor here.

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