KINGMAN — Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr said her organization is opposing several state bills and resolutions being proposed by the 2014 Arizona legislature concerning Mexican gray wolves. Wildlife officials estimate there are about 85 wolves in the wild in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to reintroduce the Mexican wolf to Arizona, including the southeastern part of Mohave County south of Interstate 40.
One state Senate bill, SB-1211, would allow an employee from the Arizona Department of Agriculture to kill any wolf that has killed or is killing livestock without facing penalty under federal law. It is also allows a cattle or livestock owner to kill a wolf that recently killed livestock — or is suspected in the killing of livestock — without penalty under federal law, Bahr said.
Mexican gray wolves have not killed anyone in North America, Bahr said, but cows kill an average of 22 people each year by crushing or stomping a person, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, wolves also kill only 0.1 percent of cattle compared to dogs which cause 0.8 percent of cattle deaths. The leading cause of cattle deaths are respiratory failure at 22 percent and digestive problems at 14 percent. Weather causes 8.6 percent of cattle deaths while theft causes 2 percent of cattle deaths, according to the USDA.
Wolves are critical to the state’s ecosystem and help ensure that elk and deer population are fitter and healthier and that the vegetation is not overbrowsed by elk or deer, Bahr said. Wolves are also native to Arizona and New Mexico, she said.
Bahr said Americans for Prosperity is behind the anti-wolf campaign. The conservative organization is pushing to take the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to the Supreme Court to rule it as unconstitutional, she said.
The county board of supervisors voted in November to send a letter stating its opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to reintroduce the Mexican wolf into Arizona and Mohave County.
Click here to join our email list for Mexican gray wolf updates and action alerts. Visit us on Facebook here.
Photo credit: John Storjohann