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Press Release: Arizona Game and Fish Commission affirms wolf conservation support, objects to new wolf releases until appropriate planning occurs

Action Needed! Contact AZ Game and Fish Today. (posted 12/5/11)

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Dec. 2, 2011

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Dec. 2 voted 3-1 to continue both its financial and infrastructure support of Mexican wolf conservation in the state, but voted not to support the release of any new wolves until the federal government completes certain critical planning measures. Previously, all initial releases of captive Mexican wolves in the U.S. have occurred in Arizona with the concurrence and support of the Game and Fish Department.

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest region, appeared before the commission to discuss Mexican wolf conservation and answer the commission’s questions. 

After more than an hour of hearing public comments, Commission Chairman Robbie Woodhouse invited retired Game and Fish Endangered Species Coordinator Terry Johnson to provide input based on Johnson’s 28-year career and extensive involvement in Arizona’s wolf program from the beginning.

“After hearing from a wide range of interested constituents, I invited Mr. Johnson to provide his opinion after being a part of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in Arizona since its inception,” says Chairman Woodhouse. “At the conclusion of the agenda item, two things were certain: passion for wolves on all sides runs very deep, and the Game and Fish Commission will continue to strongly support Mexican wolf conservation in the state, including by providing financial resources.”

The Mexican wolf reintroduction program has been operating on a recovery plan from 1982. Two efforts to revise the recovery plan have been attempted in the past, and currently a new team has been convened to prepare a new recovery plan. Planning measures requested by the commission include completion of a Mexican wolf recovery plan, environmental impact statement, and the 10(j) nonessential population rule for endangered species.

The last initial release of wolves took place in 2008. Since the wolf reintroduction effort began in 1998, 19 initial releases have taken place with Game and Fish’s support (not including translocation of wolves).

To learn about the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s role in the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction, visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf and www.azgfd.gov/w_c/es/wolf_reintroduction.shtml.
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PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY-TELL AZ GAME AND FISH THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!

With only around 55 Mexican wolves in the wild, new releases from the captive population are critical to pull these animals back from the brink of extinction. AZ Game and Fish cannot simultaneously “strongly support Mexican wolf conservation” and oppose new releases.

Write to the Commissioners and tell them:

  • The AZ Game and Fish Department has a responsibility to all of Arizona’s wildlife, especially species that are severely endangered, like the Mexican gray wolf.
  • Mexican wolves can bring great ecological benefits to Arizona’s wildlife through their positive impact on the ecosystems they inhabit, but only if they are able to reach recovery.
  • Economic studies have shown that wolves can also bring tremendous economic benefits to the regions they inhabit.
  • With only around 55 Mexican wolves in the wild, new releases are essential to increase population numbers and genetic viability.
  • Dozens of captive breeding facilities are working to make sure there are wolves ready to be released; without new releases, this work is wasted and wolves specifically bred for release into the wild will languish in captivity.
  • The survival of these critically endangered, important animals is too important to play politics with.
PLEASE PERSONALIZE YOUR MESSAGE-TELL THE COMMISSIONERS WHO YOU ARE AND WHY WOLVES ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU.

Because the Commissioners use webforms to receive emails, you will need to copy and paste your message into several webforms to reach them all. Go here, and click on Contact Me for each Commissioner.

Please send us an email to let us know you’ve taken action.

As always, thank you for all you do to help recover Mexican gray wolves!