By Madeleine Winer
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., co-sponsored a bill this week that would take the Mexican wolf off the endangered species list.
Gosar and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., introduced the bill Thursday. It would overrule Mexican wolf regulations that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set in January.
The new regulations expand the areas in New Mexico and Arizona that the wolf can roam, increase the population goal to 300-325 wolves and keep the Mexican gray wolf on the endangered species list.
Gosar’s bill, called the Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act, would block parts of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s management program from going into effect. Wolf advocates say that the bill could lead to the extinction of the species.
“The new regulations that were implemented without an appropriation or authorization from Congress, in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, defy common sense as nearly 90 percent of the wolf’s original habitat falls within the border of Mexico,” Gosar said in a statement.
“Our bipartisan bill will protect local communities, delist the Mexican wolf and terminate this flawed experimental program.”
Pearce said the Fish and Wildlife’s recovery program ignores public-safety concerns and threatens the lives of New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers. He said regulation of the Mexican wolves should be handled by the states.
“Wolves are natural predators and are devastating livestock populations and putting family pets in danger,” Pearce said.
Michael Robinson, conservation advocate for Mexican gray wolves with New Mexico’s Center for Biological Diversity, said “the Mexican wolf would be doomed” if Gosar’s bill passes. “It would reverse back to the previous listing status and further delay Mexican wolf recovery,” he added.
The original Mexican wolf recovery plan created in 1982 allowed the Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain a captive breeding program and re-establish the population with 100 Mexican wolves released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998.
Now, 109 Mexican wolves exist in Arizona, according to the bill.
In January, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed how it manages the Mexican wolf population by expanding the area south of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico in order to release the additional 250 Mexican wolves still in captivity.
The new regulations also list the Mexican wolf as a sub species of the gray wolf population, which would help maintain its endangered status.
The bill would prevent these regulations from going into effect.
“The bottom line is that scientists recommended early on that it was important to revise the Mexican wolf’s management to allow its release in the wild for for genetic reasons,” Robinson said. “They are beautiful, intelligent animals on the brink of extinction that help ensure the balance of the ecosystem, and their extinction would be a horrible tragedy.”
Sandy Bahr, the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter director, said she feels the legislation is a “recipe for extinction.”
“Time after time and poll after poll and meeting after meeting … the people support recovering endangered wolves,” she said. “I think what this demonstrates is how far out of step Congress and Gosar and others are with people of Arizona.”
Steven D. Smith, Gosar’s press secretary, said Gosar was not available to comment further on the bill.
The bill also states that the Mexican wolf recovery plan that Fish and Wildlife created in the 1980s is out of date and that the service failed to secure funding for the plan’s expansion when it changed its rules in January, despite officials asking for an updated plan.
Earlier this month, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging it has failed to update its Mexican wolf recovery plan and establish criteria for the removal of the species from the list of endangered animals.
The state asked Sally Jewell, secretary of the United States Interior Department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for a modern plan that would improve Arizona’s involvement in recovery efforts.
This article was published in the Arizona Republic.
PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR CALLING THIS BILL OUT FOR WHAT IT IS — A DEATH SENTENCE FOR ENDANGERED MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES.
Letters to the editor are powerful tools read by the public and policy makers. Letters urging continued protection for lobos can help influence members of congress to oppose this extinction bill.
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.
With this bill, Congressmen Pearce and Gosar have introduced a death sentence for the Mexican gray wolf.
- Their bill (HR2910) would remove Endangered Species Act protections for lobos, the most endangered population of wolves in the country.
- There are only 109 Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico where thousands once roamed, not because of any failure of the wolves, but because a government extermination campaign almost wiped them out. Only 7 Mexican wolves could be found by the time they received Endangered Species Act protections. Now Gosar and Pearce have made it their mission to drive our native wolves back to extinction.
- The science is clear that the Mexican gray wolf is far from recovery and must remain protected under the Endangered Species Act — with such low numbers, losing ESA protections would lead to extinction of the wild lobo.
The state of Arizona has repeatedly shown itself hostile to Mexican wolf recovery and cannot be trusted with the future of these highly endangered animals.
- During the period from 2003 to 2009, when the Mexican wolf reintroduction program was controlled by a commission led by Arizona Game and Fish, the wild population declined from 55 wolves to only 42 wolves and 2 breeding pairs in the wild. It was only after the US Fish and Wildlife Service resumed control of the program that the population numbers began to rise.
- Under AZ Game and Fish Department’s management, many individual wolves and even whole families of wolves were routinely killed and removed over livestock conflicts, with no regard for their genetic value, under standard operating procedure 13. Arizona Game and Fish has been very clear that it will bring back policies like these and further loosen restrictions on killing endangered wolves.
The recovery of the lobo has strong public support in Arizona and New Mexico and those who represent us in Congress should vigorously oppose Gosar’s and Pearce’s extinction legislation.
- Public polling continues to show overwhelming support for wolf recovery in Arizona and New Mexico.
- In a 2008 poll of registered voters, 77 % of Arizonans and 69% of New Mexicans supported “the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf into these public lands in Arizona and New Mexico.”
- In a 2013 poll of registered voters, 87% of both Arizonans and New Mexicans agreed that “wolves are a vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage.” 83% of Arizonans and 80% of New Mexicans agreed that “the US Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help wolves recover and prevent extinction.”
Mexican gray wolves pose virtually no threat to human beings. This bill is based on fear mongering to serve a dark political agenda.
- Incidents of wolves harming people are incredibly rare. Wolves generally avoid people, and in almost all cases people have nothing to fear from wolves in the wild.
- The fact remains that chances of a dangerous encounter with large carnivores in the wild are remarkably slim compared to the risks associated with simply driving our cars or associating with domestic animals, something most of us do repeatedly on a daily basis. Not a single person has been killed by a Mexican gray wolf — in comparison, each year on average in the U.S., 241 people are killed by tractors, 53 by bees, 39 by lightning, 31 by dog bites and even 22 by cows!
Incidents of Mexican gray wolves predation on livestock have been greatly exaggerated
- In New Mexico, wolves account for less than one-half of one percent of total cattle and calf losses. Together, mountain lions and bobcats take more than 30 times the cattle and calves than wolves do, but there is no all-out campaign to rid the state of these predators.
With this bill, Gosar-Pearce reveal a shocking willingness to sacrifice one of God’s creations and the greater good for a dirty political agenda.
- Gosar and Pearce introduced their bill to drive the Mexican gray wolf to extinction just one week after Pope Francis issued his encyclical that included these words: “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”
- 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. Science has repeatedly demonstrated that wolves are keystone carnivores who help to keep wildlife like elk and deer healthy and bring balance to the lands they inhabit.
- Mexican gray wolves are beautiful, intelligent, family-oriented animals with emotions who were persecuted and nearly exterminated by the government. Elected officials and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have a moral responsibility to do all in their power to avoid the extinction of these important animals.
- What would Noah do? Throwing these wolves off the Endangered Species list is like Noah throwing animals off the ark. It is impossible to support this legislation in good conscience.
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 150-200 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.”
- Urge your fellow citizens to urge their representatives in Congress to oppose this bill.
- 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.
You can also submit letters to these papers, which published similar articles:
- Arizona Daily Star Article Submit your letter here
- Arizona Daily Sun Article Submit your letter here
- San Francisco Chronicle Article Submit your letter here
- Las Cruces Sun-News Article Submit your letter here.
PLEASE ALSO CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS and urge them not to cosponsor or vote for this bill or any similar bills or riders.
Contact info for your reps is available at this link just by clicking on your state: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
When you call, you can simply say something like:
As a constituent, I urge Representative X to oppose the “Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act” and any other legislation or riders that seek to undermine wolf recovery or the Endangered Species Act. Only about 109 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild in the United States, making them highly endangered. I want my representative X to work for the greater protection of these wolves and to oppose efforts to push them closer to extinction.
Please be polite and thank whoever answers the phone.