By Rene Romo / Journal South Reporter
LAS CRUCES – Conservationists were thrilled when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week rescinded a two-day-old order to kill a Mexican gray wolf blamed for killing four cattle in recent months, but they continue to press federal officials to let the wolf remain in the wild.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said removing the Fox Mountain pack’s alpha female, the mother of at least four pups, is bad policy for a recovery project that has only 58 wolves in the wild in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.
Fish and Wildlife’s acting regional director rescinded the kill order on Aug. 10 after the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., stepped forward and offered to house the alpha female for the rest of her life.
Service spokesman Tom Buckley said the agency would not change course and allow the wolf to remain in the wild, despite the ongoing public pressure.
Before the first release of wolves in a national forest in Arizona in 1998, federal officials projected there would be 100 wolves in the wild by the end of 2006. However, illegal shootings and strict management of cattle-killing wolves have slowed the population’s growth.
Removal, Robinson said, “will have the same results ecologically on the wolves that are remaining as if they killed her.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office in Albuquerque was inundated by hundreds of phone calls and emails protesting the Aug. 8 kill order, the first such order issued by the Service in four years. Killing the wolf, advocates said, would decrease the wolf pups’ chances for survival.
Federal agents on Wednesday afternoon were continuing the efforts they started last week to capture the Fox Mountain alpha female.
Federal officials say the Fox Mountain pack killed four cows in the last four months outside the 4.4-million acre wolf recovery area. Three cattle were killed on private land.
The ranchers who owned the cattle received compensation for several of the killings, financial support for hay to draw cows away from a wolf den, and money to hire range riders to protect herds. The killings continued, and “the Service has to be responsive to the effects of wolves on livestock operations,” according to a Fish and Wildlife press release.
Click here to make calls urging decision-makers to keep the Fox Mountain alpha female in the wild with her family and to release more wolves.
Once you've made your calls, please write a letter to the editor, thanking the paper for this article and urging the USFWS to keep this wolf mother with her pups and to release many more wolves into the wild.
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 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly-your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start by thanking paper for publishing this article. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
Inform readers that wolves are social animals who rely on family members in hunting and pup rearing. Trapping or darting this wolf, and removing her forever, would disrupt the pack.
Remind them that, at last count, just 58 wolves, including six breeding pairs, survived in the wild. This is no time to bring back the policy of scapegoating wolves who occasionally prey on livestock.
Explain that the USFWS is using the Fox Mountain alpha wolves’ genetics as an excuse for removing the female, and point out that the reason these pups’ parents are so closely related may be due to the fact that not a single new wolf has been released from the captive-breeding pool since November 2008.
Assert that the way to improve the wild populations’ genetics is to release many new wolves into the wild, so that when the Fox Mountain pups, when they grow up, will be able to find unrelated mates. The wild population is extremely small and vulnerable to threats such as disease, inbreeding, or natural events. The USFWS should end the freeze on new releases of captive wolves into the wild
Let people know that by removing this wolf, the USFWS is depriving four pups born this summer of their mother, harming this family of wolves, and breaking apart one of only a few breeding pairs in the wild.
Convey how important new releases of wolves into the wild are to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health, especially now.
Tell readers why you support wolves and stress that the majority of New Mexico and Arizona voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Polling showed 69% support in New Mexico and 77% support in Arizona.
Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.
Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife. 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.
Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 words.
Provide your name, address, occupation, and phone number; your full address, occupation, and phone number will not be published, but they are required in order to have your letter published.
You can submit a letter to the Editor of the Albuquerque Journal here.
The Albuquerque Journal recently published an Editorial on this topic here.
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