Writing a letter to the editor is an excellent way to raise awareness about critically endangered Mexican gray wolves and the steps needed to help them thrive. 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.
We applaud these fine letter writers, who are making a difference for endangered lobos! We hope that these letters will motivate you to be a voice for wolves.
Consider the Facts
The idea that the primary location for saving the Mexican gray wolf should be in Mexico ignores one of many facts.
Years ago I thought I heard an owl in the middle of the afternoon. Turned out it was a dove, which I had never heard or seen in Los Alamos before 2003. They are common here now. The fact I referred to above is, climate change is real and as the environment warms and changes, all species will tend to move to higher elevations and/or further north than their “historic ranges.” Southern New Mexico and Arizona are part of the Mexican wolves’ historic range, but we need to consider that they are not going to stay south of I-40. They will try to migrate to the northern parts of those states and Colorado as well.
That’s just one reason why I support the three-region plan for Mexican Wolf recovery.
Science, not politics
Your article about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican gray wolf settlement came as a huge relief, but it creates fresh concerns (“Court mandates new recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves,” Oct. 18). The majority of New Mexicans agree we should recover the wolf, yet the program is met with opposition at every turn from state agencies whose mission is purportedly the welfare of our wildlife and ecosystems. I fear the states have worked so hard to block recovery that the resulting plan will not take into consideration the recommendations of scientists. The science is clear: Mexican wolves need a larger population and multiple recovery areas to avoid extinction. The only available space is in the Southern Rockies and the Grand Canyon area. There is no longer enough suitable habitat in Mexico to sustain recovery. Yet the states are whispering that we should turn to Mexico for space for the wolf. They should quit trying to force the wolf into extinction.
Wolves are to be celebrated, not vilified
This week, Oct. 16 to 22, marks National Wolf Awareness Week. Now in its 20th year, it was first celebrated the year following the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.
Why “Wolf Awareness Week”? The gray wolf is an iconic species that’s played an important role in our collective consciousness, although often as the villain. Though the species is historically controversial, perceptions are changing as a growing body of science underscores the important role wolves play in many of our native ecosystems.
In Colorado, a campaign of government-sponsored trapping, poisoning and hunting rendered wolves regionally extinct by 1945. As recently as last year, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, with the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper, adamantly resisted a proposal to bring rare Mexican gray wolves into Colorado to save them from extinction.
So why celebrate wolves? Because, as carnivores, wolves sit at the apex of western ecosystems, keeping elk and deer in check and on the move. With wolves in the mix, pressure on native vegetation abates, thus aiding smaller herbivores and birds that rely on these plants.
Despite their ecological importance, and despite the fact that we’ve only recently pulled wolves back from the brink of extinction in the Northern Rockies, the federal government removed protection for gray wolves, leaving the species now subject to trophy wolf hunts and less restricted killing on behalf of livestock interests. This unfortunate turn of events for wolves is rooted in intractable myths.
Myth 1: Wolves would decimate elk populations. Science shows that, in places where wolves have returned, they are only a part of the complex ebb-and-flow of elk and deer populations and that they are not a significant factor driving purported population declines.
Myth 2: Wolves put ranchers out of business. Again, science paints a different picture. Where wolves and livestock share common ground, less than one in ten-thousand cows and sheep are taken by wolves each year—many more animals are killed by lightning in those same areas. Notably, when coexistence strategies are in place and wolf packs aren’t disrupted by shooting adult wolves, livestock conflicts remain rare.)
Myth 3. Wolves pose a threat people. Hmm. Were this true, we should have seen dozens of hikers and campers in Yellowstone suffer serious injuries and loss of life caused by encounters with wolves. In fact, the data shows that, since 1995, there has not been a single incident of wolves being aggressive toward humans. That said, wolves are wild animals and we should respect their presence and strength by giving them room and not habituating them to human goodies (common sense at its best!).
So, let’s all take the opportunity this week to think about how western Colorado might benefit from the return of wolves. Then, let’s take that enthusiasm and translate it into the sustained energy needed to make that dream a reality. For more info, visit the website for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club at sierraclub.org/rockymountain-chapter/wolves.
Wildlife chair, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter
REMEMBER THE WOLVES
Oct. 16 – 22 marks National Wolf Awareness Week. It was originally set up as a national event in 1996, the year after wolves were re-introduced to the state of Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.
Why a “Wolf Awareness Week”? The North American wolf is an iconic species that’s unique in terms of being historically vilified (thank you, Jack London!) and universally/continuously controversial. But now it’s highly-valued for its better-understood ecological role in many of our native ecosystems.
Here in Colorado, the native gray wolf has been struggling to recover since its elimination in the late 1930s through sanctioned hunting. And as recently as late last year, our Colorado Parks and Wildlife organization, with the support of Governor Hickenlooper, adopted a motion to prevent rare Mexican gray wolves from being reintroduced into Colorado, as part of a federal effort to save them from extinction.
So why celebrate wolves? They are scientifically described as keystone apex predators that help ecosystems stay in balance, mainly by keeping large herbivore (i.e. elk, moose) populations in check. And although truly “wild” animals, they are well-known, especially to our indigenous peoples, to share many “family values” as humans do.
Today, in other parts of the West, gray wolves have been delisted from federal protection as an endangered species and are subject to wolf hunts. And in most of the upper Midwest timber wolves have made an astonishing comeback through past protections.
On behalf of our local Headwaters Group, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club, please take a few moments this week to learn more about wolves, and consider what it might mean to our future generations to reintroduce gray wolves into Colorado. A great place to start would be sierraclub.org/rocky-mountain-chapter/wolves.
Another opinion about Mexican gray wolves
In all the debates about Mexican gray wolves, there’s one opinion that rarely gets considered. God’s opinion. The most honorable opinion of all.
And what God would say is easy to deduce. He would ask us to treat all His animals with respect and compassion, including Mexican gray wolves.
God represents, and gives, love and caring and compassion and respect. He would say, don’t kill these magnificent animals out of hatred, or for money or ego. It’s inarguable to say that God would want us to respect all His creations. Including Mexican gray wolves.
So why don’t we take God’s opinion into account? Although our laws can’t include God’s desires, surely our morals can. Surely our opinions and actions can reflect God’s desires about how we treat all His creations.
God would say it’s not OK to kill wolves so some people can earn more money. He would say it’s not OK to kill a wolf because it might attack someone. God would advocate “innocent until proven guilty.”
God gives love and compassion and caring and respect to each and every one of us. He wants us to act like He does. And appreciate what we have. Appreciate that we have our lives, and food and clothing and shelter and health and loved ones. And appreciate and respect all His creations, as he does.
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!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
Letters to the editor are powerful tools read by the public and policy makers.
Here are two recent Lobo articles that need letters to the Editor. Talking points and submission information is provided.
Albuquerque Journal – October 30, 2016
Santa Fe Reporter - October 26, 2016