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New in the press: Montana’s 2012 Senate Race Could Doom Wolves in Arizona

Please Support Wolves and Thank the AZ Republic by Writing a Letter to the Editor Today! 2/13/2011

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The editorial below provides a brief window of opportunity for letters to the editor supporting Mexican wolves to be published in the Arizona Republic.

Getting letters published in support of Mexican wolves is urgent right now, since bills have been introduced in Congress that would strip all gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections.

Please take a little time today to write a letter to the editor. Your letter will have a better chance of getting published if you start by thanking the paper for its recent article, and tying your key points to the article.

Please write in your own words, from your own experience, and keep it brief. The paper’s submission address and word limit for letters is at the end of the editorial.

Montana's 2012 Senate race could doom wolves in Arizona.

It's politics. And it stinks.

The long-fought effort to restore endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wilds of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico is threatened by posturing between two politicians. Montana's Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who intends to run for Senate, are each trying to look more appealing to anti-wolf factions in that state. Wolves are pawns.

Let's be clear: The situation for the Mexican gray wolves is very different from that of wolves in the northern Rockies.
Wolves in the northern Rockies are in far better shape than the 50 Mexican gray wolves who stand between the species' survival and its elimination in the wilds of the Southwest. These wolves need more protection, not less.

Wolves in the northern Rockies are much more plentiful, yet efforts to remove them from the endangered-species list were overturned by court decision last August. Since then, Tester has been trying to satisfy the concerns of those who are not happy about the increasing numbers of wolves in Montana and its neighboring states.

Legitimate concerns about wolves need to be addressed. But Tester's efforts late last year included a move to simply exclude those wolves from the Endangered Species Act - not through a bill that could have been debated, but as part of a larger omnibus bill.

Rehberg is upping the ante. As a newly announced candidate for Tester's Senate seat, Rehberg says the federal government should have no say in state wildlife issues.

This is nonsense.

The Endangered Species Act is a recognition of the value of species diversity as part of every American's national heritage. States don't trump that national interest.

Yet Rehberg wants Congress to exclude all wolves - including those in Arizona and New Mexico - from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups say this effort could also be tacked onto a larger bill without debate.

Both these efforts circumvent the role of Congress as a place to openly debate matters that affect the nation. They also run around a careful process for species delisting that is built into the existing law of the land.

This approach could create a precedent of excluding animals based on politics instead of biology. It would neuter the Endangered Species Act, which is recognized as one of the world's premier environmental laws. Rehberg's scheme would doom the Mexican gray wolves.

Democrats - including the Obama administration - have been allowing Tester to build his states' rights bona fides as he seeks re-election. The president and Democrats in Congress should show some spine and serve a higher interest than Tester's political future.

The American people benefit from a healthy Endangered Species Act and a healthy population of wolves - including Mexican gray wolves.

You can read the editorial online and post a comment here

PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Arizona Republic (200 word limit), thanking them for this Editorial and calling on Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to uphold scientific integrity and work to stop bills that will strip these 50 wolves of their endangered species protections: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/sendaletter.html.

Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly:

* Stress that only about 50 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild; now is not the time to remove them from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

* Encourage President Obama and your Senators by name (http://www.contactingthecongress.org/) to fight all bills that would weaken the Endangered Species Act and place wolves at greater risk of extinction and ask your fellow citizens to speak up against them.

* Point out that these bills set a precedent that endangers all wildlife.

* Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.

* Keep your letter below or at 200 words, that’s the paper’s limit.

* Provide your name, address and phone number; your full address and phone number will not be published, but they are required in order to have your letter published.

Additional information and more editorial contacts are here.

Mexican gray wolf photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke