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Report: Good Turn-out of Wolf Supporters at Poorly Publicized Meeting in Alpine

Comments Needed to Support New Releases of Captive Wolves! (11/21/11)

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In spite of having only a few days notice of an AZ Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) meeting to discuss proposed releases of Mexican wolves from captivity, Mexican wolf supporters managed to outnumber the anti-wolf special interests on November 17 in Alpine Arizona.

At the meeting, which was apparently only publicized to a few local area residents (pro-wolf residents of the area received no notice), the AZGFD representative, Chris Bagnoli, made it clear that the intention was to gather information to pass on to the AZGFD Director as guidance for initial releases of Mexican wolves into Arizona. Bagnoli also announced that comments on the proposed releases are due on November 21, 2011. Like the meeting itself, this comment period was scarcely publicized.

For the past three years, each attempt to release new wolf packs in Arizona has been stopped. The recommendations of AZGFD for the proposed releases will likely include "more assertive management actions," meaning removing or killing wolves that depredate. Anti-wolf meeting participants advocated removing wolves suspected of depredating on livestock two or three times in a year.

This was done previously under a disastrous policy that ended several years ago under a legal agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation groups, who argued successfully that this policy was obstructive to Mexican wolf recovery. Livestock owners have a responsibility to take action to avoid depredations, including range riders, fladry, and removal of livestock carcasses that can lead to wolves learning to depredate on livestock.

A requirement to remove livestock carcasses or render them inedible was also brought up. Unfortunately, there was no proposal to make this mandatory for livestock growers, even though it has long been recommended by experts as an important step to reducing depredation.

Bagnoli also indicated that AZGFD would advocate for only 100 wolves  as the goal for removing Mexican gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. While 100 wolves was an interim goal set for 2006, it was never the goal for delisting and is much too small a population to ensure the continuation of the wolves. The new Recovery Plan currently being developed will set targets for removing Mexican wolves from the Endangered Species list.

PLEASE SEND COMMENTS TODAY!

Although it is highly illegitimate for the AZGFD to set a comment deadline that is not publicized, it will help if your comments in support of releases and management for recovery are submitted by the end of the day. If this is not possible, please make sure your comments are sent before the December 2 AZ Game and Fish Commission meeting (more information here).

Comments should be sent to Chris Bagnoli at: cbagnoli@azgfd.gov

YOU CAN USE THESE TALKING POINTS IN YOUR EMAIL:

* With only around 55 wolves in the wild, Mexican gray wolves are one of the most endangered mammals on the planet, and more releases are critical to increase population numbers and genetic viability.

* There are many wolves in captive facilities that could increase the wild population, but no new wolf packs have been released into the wild since November, 2008.  Additional releases are necessary to the goal of recovery.

* Since there is no ranching going on in the potential release areas since the Wallow fire and the agency doesn’t expect there to be livestock grazing in the next year, this is a good time for new wolves to be released.

* Area livestock producers have a responsibility to care for their livestock by proactively avoiding depredations. With so few Mexican wolves in the wild, every wolf is important. Rather than removing wolves for depredating, livestock should be moved and livestock producers should be required to remove or render inedible livestock carcasses on their allotments, as well as other proactive measures.

* It is premature for AZ Game and Fish to make recommendations regarding targets for removing Mexican gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has convened a recovery planning team that include AZ Game and Fish and scientifically valid targets for delisting will be developed through that process.

Thank you for everything you do for lobos!

Please send us an email at info@mexicanwolves.org and let us know your comments have been sent.