Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is an excellent way to raise awareness about the Mexican gray wolf situation and the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Surveys of newspaper readers show that the letters page is among the most closely read parts of the paper. It’s also the page policy-makers look to as a barometer of public opinion.
Several excellent letters written by lobo supporters have been published in the past month!
From the Albuquerque Journal, November 16, 2010
POLITICS ATTACKS WOLF SCIENCE
AS A STRONG supporter of Mexican wolf recovery, I found the news in your article, Wolf Release in Ariz. Postponed Until 2011, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has decided to delay releasing a new wolf pack, alarming. These wolves are at great risk of a second extinction, with only around 40 left in the wild.
Although the wild population has been in decline for years, the USFWS has not released more wolves into the wild since 2008. The USFWS announced plans to release this pack, bred in captivity specifically to improve population numbers and genetics, months ago. Now it appears that science has again taken a back seat to politics!
Key steps the USFWS should already have taken to recover these wolves to their natural role include changing the rules to allow direct releases into New Mexico and releasing more of the wolves in captivity that are already eligible for release in New Mexico. This would thwart the ability of anti-wolf interests in Arizona to interfere with recovery.
I urge your readers to contact the USFWS and insist they get serious about recovering these magnificent animals.
PUT WOLF PAIR IN WILD NOW
RE: OCT. 9 Albuquerque Journal article “Wolf Release in Ariz. Postponed Until 2011” delivered the news of yet another letdown in the state and federal agencies’ attempt to recover the Mexican gray wolves in the wild, the subspecies of wolves that are endangered to the brink of extinction.
The article states the reason for this postponing — a recent discovery of already existing wolves in the Engineer Springs area in Greenlee County, Ariz., where the new pack was to be released. Naturally a captive raise pair with their pups should not be dropped into a territory already occupied by wolves.
But it is amazing that the highly monitored Mexican gray wolf management program, run by state and federal government staff in the office and on the field, cannot figure out an alternate plan for the release, so this wolf pair can raise its offspring in the wild and become the desperately needed addition to the population crucial to the survival of the species.
Maybe the problem with the wolf recovery program is not in the situation with the wolves, but that we need a new, more resourceful oversight committee for the program. The survival of the Mexican gray wolves in the wild depends on fast action and there is not time to be wasted, inaction embedded in some obscure release date of “sometime next year.” These wolves should be released immediately so that they may begin their life in the wild where they belong!
From the Alibi, November 18 – 24, 2010
Kudos to Jeffrey A. Davis for his letter to the editor [“Boys Gone Wild in an Agency Turned Rogue,” Nov. 11-17]. I agree that the New Mexico Game and Fish Department acts in obvious conflict with the public’s interest in “managing” our wildlife populations. Because the department makes money from selling hunting licenses, it caters to its hunting constituency and ignores the majority who fund public lands and pay other federal taxes that support wildlife.
It is an archaic and misguided viewpoint that fewer native carnivores mean more deer and elk for hunters. Aldo Leopold learned this lesson long ago; native carnivores are crucial to the health and vitality of our ecosystems. The documentary Lords of Nature keenly shows how ecosystem collapse happens in the absence of large carnivores. Carnivores actually benefit prey populations, say biologists.
While sheep and cattle ranchers too complain about native carnivores, they have more to fear from weather and birthing problems than predation. The government’s own data shows that native carnivores kill few domestic livestock: less than 1 percent of cattle inventoried and about 5 percent of sheep.
To add insult to injury, in addition to jumping up the cougar and bear quotas, now the Game Department has declared that coyote trapping can continue in the Mexican wolf recovery area, despite Gov. Richardson’s July executive order and the October Game Commission’s unanimous decision to ban all trapping on public lands in lobo country. Lobos are highly imperiled and deserve immediate protections from traps.
Ridiculously, Game and Fish declared it has “no authority” to regulate coyote trapping. Of course the agency has the authority to regulate not only coyotes but also trapping activities.
Game and Fish profits from the guise of making the public safe, but it fails to serve the public when our rare native wildlife are hobbled to extinction. Supposedly, the huge increases in bear and cougar kills will protect us from “nuisance” wildlife and trapping coyotes will help those in agribusiness.
People, not wildlife, are the problem. People not only crowd wildlife in their last shreds of habitat but also attract bears to backyards with garbage and bird feeders. Livestock growers can use a host of nonlethal methods to protect their stock. Instead of taking responsibility while growing livestock in wild country, a few expect that all our majestic creatures be wiped out as part of their entitlement and over-exaggerated sense of fear.
Large carnivores increase ecosystem balance. Yet fear, ignorance and greed by the few drive New Mexico’s wildlife policies. If we are to thrive, we must do so while coexisting with carnivores because they make ecosystems functional and diverse. In the words of conservationist leader Dave Foreman, “the heart of darkness was not held by wilderness, but lurked in the breasts of men and women.” It is not wildlife we should fear, but the New Mexico Game and Fish gone rogue. It envisions a world without native carnivores. Now that is scary.
Many thanks and congratulations to these talented and dedicated letter writers-your letters make a big difference in the effort to protect and recover our lobos!
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