In the Press: Mexican gray wolf deaths in New Mexico drop in 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-Fewer Mexican gray wolves were found dead in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona this past year, and federal officials say efforts aimed at reducing conflicts with livestock seem to be helping.
Officials confirmed that three of the four wolves found dead in 2012 were illegally shot.
In the most recent case, the carcass of a female member of Arizona's Hawks Nest pack was found in December. The cause of death is under investigation.
Eight wolves were found dead in 2011. Three were shot, two were hit by vehicles, and three died of natural causes.
"It's always encouraging when we have a decrease in the mortalities," said Sherry Barrett, coordinator of the wolf recovery program.
Barrett said the wolf program has been working with landowners and hunting groups in New Mexico and Arizona as it tries to educate people about the predators. The program also uses a special interdiction fund to reimburse ranchers for livestock lost to the wolves.
For the 2012 fiscal year, the fund was used to make 19 payments totaling more than $27,500. The environmental group Defenders of Wildlife spent about $68,000 on similar efforts aimed at reducing livestock conflicts.
Returning the wolves to the wild has been hampered by everything from politics to illegal killings. Disputes over management of the program have also spurred numerous legal actions by environmentalists who have been
pushing for more wolves in the wild and ranchers who are concerned about their livelihoods and safety in rural communities.
There were at least 58 wolves in the wild at the beginning of 2012. This year's annual survey will begin in two weeks.
Beyond those wolves that were killed last year, environmentalists were concerned about those that have failed to show up on the radar. Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity counted at least three radio-collared wolves that had not been accounted for during 2012's weekly telemetry flights.
Please submit letters to the editor thanking the papers for this article and urging that more be done to pull Mexican gray wolves back from the brink of extinction.
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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.
Express that fewer wolves killed is good news but new releases of wolves into the wild are still urgently needed to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health.
Remind readers that, at last count, just 58 wolves, including six breeding pairs, survived in the wild. 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.
State that the USFWS needs to change the rule that prohibits releasing wolves into New Mexico if they have not previously lived in the wild. The USFWS has for years been sitting on the Environmental Assessment that would make changing this problematic rule possible. Allowing direct releases in New Mexico will give wildlife managers the flexibility to get more wolves on the ground, regardless of unexpected events like forest fires. It will allow them to choose the best places for releases to succeed. And it will give these important animals a much better chance at recovery.
Advocate for a new, science-based recovery plan to replace the outdated 1982 plan; the US Fish and Wildlife Service should be doing all in its power to expedite release of a draft plan based on the work of the scientific subcommittee. Development of a new recovery plan that will address decreased genetic health and ensure long-term resiliency in Mexican wolf populations must move forward without delay.
Inform readers that obstruction by anti-wolf special interests and politics has kept this small population of unique and critically endangered wolves at the brink of extinction for too long and can no longer be allowed to do so.
Say that to further reduce livestock-wolf conflicts livestock owners should be required to remove dead livestock from public lands or render the carcasses inedible (by applying lime). Dead livestock left lying around on the landscape can lead wolves to become habituated to domestic meat.
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 or within the specific 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.
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