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TUCSON, Ariz. - The Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program along the Arizona-New Mexico border is moving into a new phase, with a program compensating ranchers for wolf-caused livestock losses being taken over by the federal government.
Meanwhile, Craig Miller, Southwest representative with Defenders of Wildlife, says his organization's resources will be redirected to projects that actively safeguard livestock and protect wolves.
"It should benefit ranchers as well as conservationists because it provides significant flexibility in the way the funds are used to address conflicts."
Eva Sargent, Southwest program director with Defenders of Wildlife, says her group will now focus on what they call "Wolf Coexistence Partnerships," using proven methods to proactively prevent livestock losses to wolves.
"Special fencing, more cowboys or range-riders in the field to watch out for the cattle; the human presence keeps the wolves away. You could do moving of cattle to more secure pasturing that's further from wolf dens."
Craig Miller says the goal is near-zero losses of both livestock and wolves through a combination of collaboration, common sense, and cost-effective methods and tools.
"There's no silver bullet that works in every situation every time. But we've been able to work in partnership with both Arizona and New Mexico game and fish departments, and ranchers in conflict-prone areas, to significantly reduce or eliminate conflicts entirely."
While the reintroduced wolves have been responsible for less than one percent of livestock losses, Defenders of Wildlife has paid out more than $1.4 million to owners nationwide over the past 23 years, including nearly $125,000 in Arizona and New Mexico. After September 10, those claims will be handled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Arizona's Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program began just over 12 years ago.
This story was published on August 24, 2010 by the Public News Service - AZ