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In the Press: Eradicate hurdles to wolf reintroduction

Arizona Republic Editorial, December 7, 2011-Letter to the Editor Opportunity!

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The reintroduction of the endangered Mexican gray wolf is not just about Arizona. This effort reflects our national commitment to endangered species and serves a longstanding national value for healthy ecosystems.

Arizona has a particular interest in these wolves because they are being recovered on federal land here and in New Mexico. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission was right to reaffirm the state's involvement with the federal wolf program, which began before the first animals were released in 1998.

But the commission was wrong in voting last week to oppose the release of new wolves until a new federal plan is developed for the program.

Yes, that plan is overdue. Yes, applying the spurs is a good idea. But finalizing the plan could take years. The wolf effort needs new blood now.

The number of wolves on the ground in Arizona and New Mexico has fallen to about 50 animals. This was due, in part, to a misguided -- and since discontinued – management rule that led to the killing or capture of wild wolves that preyed on cattle.

The concerns of ranchers using public land are important. But ranchers' interests must be balanced with the needs of a recovery program the public supports on those same public lands.

Our state should not erect roadblocks to increasing the wolf population.

Commissioners should ponder the importance of new wolves to the recovery effort and reconsider.

It is important to restore this top predator to the ecosystem. Such recovery efforts go beyond the interests of one or two states. They reflect a cherished national value for ecosystem health and biological diversity.

It's an interest Congress established decades ago with the Endangered Species Act, and one that will benefit Americans now and for generations to come.
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PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR TODAY AND THANK THE AZ REPUBLIC FOR THEIR EXCELLENT EDITORIAL.

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 the AZ Game and Fish Commissioners and/or their staff.

Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.

Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly-your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to info@mexicanwolves.org:
  • Start by thanking the AZ Republic for their important editorial-this makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
  • *Stress that only about 50 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild, making them the most endangered mammal in North America.
  • Encourage the AZ Game Commission to reverse this decision to obstruct critically needed new releases, and ask your fellow citizens to speak up as well.
  • Convey how important new releases of wolves into the wild are to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health-new releases are essential to pull the wild population away from the brink of extinction.
  • Explain that there are wolves in captivity ready to be released and wolves in the wild that do not have mates; these wolves can’t wait two or more years for the new Recovery Plan to be completed.
  • 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.
  • Point out that the AZ Game and Fish Commission has a responsibility to protect all of Arizona’s wildlife, especially severely endangered species like the Mexican wolf. Decisions like this threaten the agency’s credibility.
  • Mention polling showing that the vast majority of Arizona residents support Mexican wolf recovery; AZ Game and Fish is not acting in most Arizonans’ interests by blocking new releases.
  • Emphasize that public lands livestock producers have a responsibility to be good stewards, which means sharing the land with wildlife like wolves, and taking appropriate preventative measures to minimize conflicts.
  • Keep your letter under 200 words, which is the AZ Republic’s word 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.

Submit your letter here.

Please send us a copy of any letters you submit to help us track what’s being published; even if your letter is not published, it may help influence the editors to publish another’s letter on the same topic.  And, as always, thank you for all you do to help save our Mexican wolves.

To read the editorial on the AZ Republic website, click here.

Photo credit: Mexican gray wolf in captivity courtesy of Trisha Shears