LAS CRUCES — The Mexican gray wolf recovery effort, started in early 1998 with the release of a handful in southwest Arizona, has been hobbled by illegal poaching and the aggressive removal of lobos from the wild for killing cattle, but the program could undergo some major changes in the next two years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were 59 wolves within a recovery zone in the forests of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico at the end of 2006, and at the end of 2011, the number was 58. Biologists had expected that by 2006 the population would reach 100.
Fish and Wildlife is developing a long-awaited recovery plan, to be released for public comment in 2013, that could dramatically alter the rules that the project operates under. Under consideration are proposals to allow the release of captive-bred wolves directly into New Mexico, rather than limiting such releases to Arizona alone as is the case now, and to establish populations in other parts of the Southwest.
In addition, the agency could soon change the designation of the wolf under the Endangered Species Act so that lobos could disperse outside the recovery zone.
Under pressure from conservation organizations concerned about the number of wolves removed from the wild for killing cattle — 35 lobos in 2006 and 2007 alone — federal officials effectively halted such removals in 2008. One wolf was ordered removed in early August, but she has so far eluded capture.
Please write a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal today, thanking them for the story and urging more releases of captive wolves to increase the wild population’s genetic health and size.
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.
Submit letters to the editor of Albuquerque Journal here.
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 the paper for publishing these articles. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
Express your support for greater protections and a new Recovery Plan for Mexican gray wolves. The old Recovery Plan from 1982 is sorely outdated and inadequate. The rules need to be changed to allow Mexican wolves to roam free and be released directly into New Mexico.
Convey how important new releases of Mexican wolves into the wild are to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health. At only around 58 wolves, the wild population is extremely small and vulnerable to threats such as disease, inbreeding, or natural events. But the US Fish and Wildlife Service has not released new Mexican wolves to the wild since November 2008 and now wants to remove a wolf with four pups from the wild over livestock. This will not help the wild population.
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.
Urge the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to end the freeze on more releases of captive Mexican wolves into the wild. Releases of captive wolves must happen now to prevent another extinction in the wild; the number of wild wolves must increase to reduce their vulnerability.
Encourage the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to use all the means available to them to expedite more releases of captive wolves into the wild. The agency has been sitting on an Environmental Assessment that can end the ridiculous rule prohibiting new releases into New Mexico and letting wolves eligible for release into both Arizona and New Mexico sit in captivity. The stalling has to stop.
Explain that there are Mexican wolves in captivity ready to be released and wolves in the wild that do not have mates. These wolves need more releases to form more new breeding pairs and families.
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.
Reiterate 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, depending on the paper's limit.
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.
Please send us a copy of your letter as well, so that we can track the actions taken to save these wonderful animals. Thank you!