I would like to address the issue of the Mexican gray wolves. One of the reasons is because the executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, Caren Cowen, in a recent story said: “These animals haven’t proven to be able to live in the wild, for whatever reason. “¦ Why are we trying to make something happen that clearly nature doesn’t want to happen?”
This was very wrong to say. It is not nature that doesn’t want the wolves to survive, but some ranchers.
The Mexican gray wolves are a symbol of the West. They also provide biological diversity. Keeping them here, in New Mexico, would have many good effects.
The Mexican gray wolves are very important to our ecosystem. They help keep pest populations down, which helps stop the spread of disease and parasites. Another thing they do to help our ecosystem is that they keep elk and deer populations down. This may seem bad, but it is actually a good thing. It keeps the herds healthy and strong. If the populations are down a little, then there is enough food to go around because the Earth has time to regenerate.
Some of the issues many people are concerned about are that the Mexican gray wolves scare people and that they attack livestock. I am aware that people are concerned, but Mexican gray wolves have never been known to attack people. They also never come into towns to attack pets. If a dog is wandering around a Mexican gray wolf’s territory, then the Mexican gray wolf may become aggressive if it thinks the dog is a threat in protection of the pack and the pups. My parents would do the same for me if they thought a person was a threat to my safety. As for the livestock, I know that ranchers are worried about the attacks. Let me please point out that Mexican gray wolves mainly eat deer, elk, small mammals and roots, as well as other assorted vegetation. They hardly ever attack livestock. They attack about 10 cattle a year. This is about the total of all the Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico’s attacks on livestock. A more major problem for ranchers are the wild dogs (dogs that were abandoned and went wild). They are not afraid of people, and they do most of the killings. The wolves just scavenge the bodies.
The Mexican gray wolves are also good for New Mexico’s people and economy. According to evidence from Yellowstone National Park, when the Mexican gray wolves were re-introduced into the wild, more tourists started going. If we keep the wolves, then more tourists would come to learn about this historical creature of New Mexico. That would increase our economy. Also, they would provide educational opportunities for kids, by teaching them about New Mexico’s environment and ecosystem. Jobs would also increase because more scientists would come to study this endangered species.
So, in conclusion, I hope people will reconsider relocating or destroying these beautiful creatures. Many animals have already gone extinct because of humans. I do not want that to happen to the Mexican gray wolves. I hope that we can find a way to live in harmony with these animals.
Aurelia Valente is 13, in seventh grade and home schooled in Santa Fe.
This Op-Ed appeared in the March 16, 2013 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican
Photo credit: James S. Wood