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 decision-makers. Tips and talking points for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Don’t try to include all of the points below. Your letter will be effective if you keep it brief and focus on a few key points.
- Bills or riders aimed at stripping endangered wolves of federal protections put more than wolves in peril – they threaten all wildlife and the Endangered Species Act itself.
- The Pearce Amendment is a Mexican wolf extermination bill. If passed, neither Arizona nor New Mexico will provide wolves any real protection, and they will likely be actively hunted.
- At last official count, only 97 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world. The wild population declined 12% since last year’s count.
- The livestock industry has a responsibility to share public lands with wolves and other wildlife. Wolves are responsible for less than 1% of livestock losses and there are many tried and true methods to avoid conflicts between livestock and wolves. Most wolves stay out of trouble.
- Since the Mexican wolf reintroduction began, there has always been funding and programs available, via Defenders of Wildlife, the states, or the federal government, to help ranchers cover losses or avoid problems. Many ranchers have learned to ranch in the presence of wolves, and see them as just another part of working on the land.
- The science is clear that the Mexican gray wolf is far from recovered and must remain protected under the Endangered Species Act — with such low numbers, losing Endangered Species Act protections would lead to extinction of the wild lobo.
- Scientists 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.
- Congressman Pearce says that “he will always vote in line with what his constituents want”. If this is true, he would not be calling for the end of protections for Mexican wolves. In a 2013 poll of registered voters, 87% of New Mexicans agreed that “wolves are a vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage.” 80% of New Mexicans agreed that “the US Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help wolves recover and prevent extinction.” In thinking about wolf reintroduction, 73% of New Mexicans supported restoring wolves to the Grand Canyon region and northern New Mexico.
Make sure you:
- Thank the paper for publishing the article.
- Submit your letter as soon as possible. The chance of your letter being published declines after a day or two since the article was published.
- Do not repeat any negative messages from the article, such as “so and so said that wolves kill too many cows, but”¦” Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article.
- Keep your letter brief, between 150-350 words.
- Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.”
- Provide your name, address, phone number and address. The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.