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Column: Montini: Siding with real wolves over political ones

The Arizona Republic, 1/15/16 – Letters to the Editor Opportunity

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The political wolves are circling the native variety, which is never good for the pack.

Like that time in the 1950s when hysteria whipped up by politicians whipped up by the livestock lobby essentially wiped out the wolf population in the lower 48 states.

And just last year at about this time a gray wolf traveled 450 miles from Colorado, through urban deathtraps and unforgiving wilderness, to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

It may have been the distant echo of ancient, howling ancestors that drew her back to a place where wolves once had a place.

It didn’t last long.

She was shot dead by a bounty hunter supposedly looking to collect Utah’s price of $50 per coyote hide.

Now Gov. Doug Ducey, along with the governors of New Mexico, Utah and Colorado want to prevent any effort to expand the Mexican gray wolf population to the canyon,

They sent a joint letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

Their claim is that the wolves are not native to the area.

(Although supporters of the wolves point out that elk from the northern Rocky Mountains have been imported to the area.)

The howling of politicians can’t match the howling of wolves for its music, its beauty. But it often reaches a more powerful audience.

When asked in polls about this, citizens side with those hoping to preserve and protect the wild wolf population. Like the 5,500 individuals who signed a petition asking the governors to reconsider.

“Arizonans want wolves,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter.

Not the political variety

The real thing.

This Op-Ed was published in The Arizona Republic.

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Letters Needed!

The recent Mexican gray wolf rallies in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico
and Utah have generated a flurry of media and press.

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.

Submit your letter to The Arizona Republic HERE.


Talking points

  • The commission seems to be missing some facts – new research shows Mexican gray wolves ranged into Colorado and southern Utah, and wolves of one type or another were everywhere in the North America at one time.
  • For over 10,000 years, gray wolves lived throughout the Southwest and played an important role in shaping the landscape and maintaining balance in nature.  Under state management, most subspecies of wolves were hunted and trapped to extinction.  The highly endangered Mexican gray wolf is the most appropriate surviving subspecies for recovery in Utah and Colorado, and they cannot recover without help from all four states.
  • Historic range is irrelevant. Mexico and the Western U.S. have been transformed by human settlement and varying laws.  Recovery of Mexican gray wolves cannot occur wholly in Mexico.  There are no large blocks of public lands, there is not a great deal of suitable habitat and prey, and there may not be enough resources to do the job.
  • If wolves “fundamentally alter the ecosystem” as Commissioner Davis suggests, it will be for the best, as they’ve been absent too long. We need wolves, be they Mexican gray wolves or northern wolves, to help repair wildlands.  Yellowstone has taught us the important role of top predators in ecosystems with the return of songbirds, beavers, fish and trees.  Why shouldn’t the Grand Canyon have the same benefits seen in Yellowstone?
  • It’s hypocritical for the governors to argue that Mexican wolves should be excluded based on whether they are “native.”  The state game agencies have no problem moving game species and fish into places they never lived simply for the convenience of hunters and fishermen.
  • Governor Ducey is setting himself and his commission apart from the majority of Arizonans who support our wildlife – including predators. Governor Ducey would love to have the polling numbers wolves enjoy in Arizona.
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a scientific integrity complaint in 2012 saying that US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed politics to interfere with the new Mexican wolf recovery planning process by encouraging scientists to lower or forgo the numeric target for recovery, responding to state demands to exclude Utah, Colorado, and Northern Arizona from suitable habitat, and attempting to prevent the science subgroup from issuing final Mexican wolf recovery criteria - http://www.klamathconservation.org/docs/carrolletal2013.pdf - . The state is using out of date information – newer studies support a more northward range for Mexican gray wolves historically.  Genetic research has found evidence of Mexican wolf genetic markers in Utah and Colorado, and as far north as Nebraska.
  • The Endangered Species Act does not require recovery to occur within species’ historic range.
  • States have failed to manage wildlife as a public trust for current and future citizens.  State wildlife policies, which kill off predators to supposedly support game populations, are rooted in the 1800s. Fortunately, our national policy is to restore and preserve all forms of wildlife, including predators.  Until the states get serious about balancing conservation vs. consumption, they should recuse themselves from decisions about endangered species.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to stop letting anti-wolf state officials obstruct wolf recovery.  The last effort to create aMexican wolf recovery plan stalled precisely because the states were given opportunities to weigh in before the work of the scientific experts was released for public comment. The most recent recovery planning process, which began in 2011, ended amidst allegations of political interference by these same states with the science.
Letter Writing Tips 

Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for this article and make sure to reference the article in your letter.
  • 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 Arizona Republic HERE.

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WANT TO DO MORE FOR LOBOS?

Please also call or email the Governor.
Tell him/his staff that as an Arizona resident and wolf supporter, you are disappointed in his actions to obstruct wolf recovery. Ask him to respect the peer-reviewed research of the Mexican gray wolf science and planning subgroup and to use his influence to ensure the wolves’ recovery, for their own sake and for the sake of the lands they will help restore.
Phone: 602.542.4331602.542.4331
Email


Messages to Interior Secretary Jewell and USFWS Director Dan Ashe will make a difference as well, since they have authority over the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Act here.

Thank you for speaking out for lobos!

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