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In the News: Mesker Zoo's conservation 'ripples' reach out

Evansville Courier & Press, January 17, 2012 (posted 1/20/12)

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By Megan Erbacher, Special to the Courier & Press

EVANSVILLE — Supporting conservation efforts is like poking a finger into a pool of water, according to Dr. Susan Lindsey, animal curator, at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden.

She used the analogy to explain the zoo's role in global conservation as she and Paul Bouseman, the zoo's horticulture curator, spoke to a group of about 20 people Tuesday evening at Central Library in Downtown Evansville.

The staff at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden cares for two-dozen species of endangered animals and several species of rare plants, but their work doesn't stop there.

The zoo is also involved in protecting species as varied as spectacled eider ducks in Alaska, martens in Michigan and the reintroduction of red wolves in North Carolina and Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

"It's the ripple effect," Lindsey said. "You touch a small pool, and you think that's all it's doing, when it really reaches out into so many different areas, within our country and the world."

…[Lindsey's] her focus Tuesday evening was on wolf conservation and their reintroduction into the wild. She discussed efforts to restore populations of red wolves and the Mexican gray wolf, which is the most endangered wolf in the world.
Lindsey said it's essential to tell people why it's important to protect endangered species.

"Some folks just want to know it's out there for their kids to maybe enjoy some day," she said. "Others want to know that they can go there and hear the howl of the wolf. Some people want to know it's out there just for the artistic beauty. Some people want it there because it recovers a balance that should have been there. And some people want it there because it rights a wrong."

Lindsey said it's imperative that wolf recovery means the recovery of an entire complex — the long leaf pine, the grasses present, the cottonwoods — all those things are really important, not just for the wolf, but for many of the smaller species that would not survive if that whole picture disappeared. …
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PLEASE SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Evansville Courier and Press, thanking them for this article and promoting Mexican gray wolf recovery. 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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 paper for their coverage of this important issue-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 and the most endangered wolf in the world.

Point out that the goal of facilities like the Mesker Park Zoo is ultimately to have healthy Mexican wolf populations in the wild; the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service should honor the work of captive wolf programs and use all the means available to them to expedite releases of captive wolves into the wild.

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.

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.

Reiterate the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife
. Top predators, such as Mexican gray wolves, are vital to keeping wildlands healthy and full of life. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters.

Keep your letter brief.

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

Submit your letter to the editor here.

The Albuquerque Journal, AZ Republic, and Arizona Daily Star also recently published articles on Mexican gray wolves. For more information on these letter to the editor opportunities, click here.

To read the full article posted by the Evansville Courier and Press, click here.

Mexican gray wolf photo courtesy of Bonnie Leer