By Rene Romo
Journal Southern Bureau
LAS CRUCES — Twelve Democratic members of Congress, including New Mexico Rep. Martin Heinrich, have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar calling for changes to the federally run Mexican gray wolf recovery project aimed at bolstering the wild lobo population.
The letter calls for five key recommendations. They include the release of 22 wolves — eight in Arizona and 14 in New Mexico — that are considered eligible for release under the program’s rules; and the retrieval of telemetry receivers loaned to private parties that alert ranchers and property owners when wolves are nearby.
Some conservationists believe the telemetry receivers can be used to locate and kill Mexican gray wolves. Thirty-five wolves have been killed illegally since the program was launched in 1998 with the release of wolves into a national forest in southeast Arizona.
In the Dec. 1 letter to Salazar, the members of Congress call for reforms “before it becomes too late and this unique and vital animal can no longer be saved from extinction.”
They add: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service persists in pursuing failed policies and repudiated management practices, while delaying positive change, even as the sole Mexican wolf population in the wild continues a five-year decline.”
Along with Heinrich, the letter was signed by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, four representatives from northern California, and others from Tennessee, New York, Georgia, Indiana and Colorado.
The letter also asks Fish and Wildlife to release a completed draft environmental assessment that could lead to a new policy allowing captive wolves to be released directly into New Mexico. Under current rules, wolves new to the wild can only be released initially into Arizona, with New Mexico reserved for the relocation of previously captured wolves.
In addition, the letter urges the agency to assemble a scientific team that would produce a new draft recovery plan by next month establishing a formal goal for the wild lobo population.
To read the full article, published in the Albuquerque Journal on December 4, 2010, click here (Non-subscribers can scroll down and use the Trial Access Pass button).
Please write a letter to the editor praising these legislators for their informed and courageous stance at a time when other members of Congress are pushing legislation to strip Mexican wolves of endangered species protections!!
And please send a quick email to let Congressmen Heinrich and Grijalva, and the other signers know how much you appreciate their support for lobos:
Congressman Raul Grijalva
Congressman Martin Heinrich
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Congressman Jared Polis
Congressman Andre Carson
Congressman Sam Farr
Congressman Pete Stark
Congresswoman Nita Lowey
Congressman Mike Honda
Congressman John Lewis
Congressman Steve Cohen
As always, thank you for all you do to save our lobos; now more than ever, your support is critical to the continued existence of Mexican wolves in the wild!
To learn more about how you can help stop legislative delisting of Mexican and other gray wolves, click here.
Photo credits from top to bottom: Congressman Martin Heinrich courtesy of official website, Congressman Raul Grijalva, courtesy of official website