What if there were no Mexican gray wolves in Arizona?


What If: Paul Gosar, Defender of Wildlife debate the impact of the Mexican grey wolf in Arizona.

What would happen if there were no Mexican grey wolves in Arizona? We asked two experts to weigh in on federal programs to reintroduce the species



Arizona would be identical to Texas in that respect and the Mexican wolf population would more closely resemble its historic range (90 percent of the Mexican wolf’s original habitat is in Mexico).

However, I am not advocating for Mexican gray wolf eradication. I simply want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to leave species conservation efforts to the states, to comply with federal law, and to stop implementing a flawed experimental program that poses a serious threat to Arizona ranchers, citizens and economies.

Mexican wolves have repeatedly stalked citizens, devastated big game herds and killed livestock. In Catron County, N.M., the wolf’s presence has resulted in a $5 million economic hit and “1,172 calves lost annually,” according to the Southwest Center for Resource Analysis.

In January, Fish and Wildlife implemented new regulations that dramatically expanded the area Mexican wolves can roam and designated the wolf as an endangered subspecies. The agency acknowledged its failure to secure appropriations prior to implementing the new regs, in violation of federal law.

The Mexican wolf has lingered on the Endangered Species list for nearly 40 years. During that time, Fish and Wildlife has failed to work with local stakeholders and has been using an illegal recovery program, as it is not based on the best available science and fails to establish a recovery goal. Arizona recently sued as a result.

The agency has acknowledged the recovery plan violates federal law and that the new regulations will not result in a de-listing. In the U.S., the Mexican wolf population now exceeds the primary goal of 100 wolves, and there are another 250 in captivity. The wolf is no longer in danger of extinction.

The bipartisan Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act rejects the new January mandates as Arizonans deserve a viable solution that adequately protects local communities.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar is a Republican representing Arizona.



If there were no Mexican gray wolves in Arizona, this rarest gray wolf would be on a direct path to extinction. Essentially eradicated from the southwestern United States by the 1930s, the Mexican gray wolf It is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. There are fewer than 120 wild Mexican gray wolves in the entire world: 109 in Arizona and New Mexico and a handful in Mexico.

Why does that matter? Lobos hold profound cultural significance in our region, and are important apex predators that contribute to the environmental health of the areas they inhabit. Sadly, despite the work that has been done to recover them, the Mexican gray wolf is still noticeably rare on our beautiful landscape in Arizona. The truth is, Without lobos, Arizona would not be safer or more productive, but it would be lacking an iconic part of our heritage.

No one has ever been killed by a Mexican gray wolf, and in Arizona, wolves account for less than 1 percent of total cattle and calf losses. On the other hand, 87 percent of voters polled in Arizona agree that wolves are a “vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage,” and 83 percent of Arizonans agree that “the US Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help wolves recover and prevent extinction.”

To lose the lobo would be a tragedy of our lifetime.

Eva Sargent is Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife.

4 thoughts on “What if there were no Mexican gray wolves in Arizona?

  1. Losing the lobo would be a tragedy but it would join other wildlife we have driven out of their habitat and off this earth. There is an article in the White Mountain Independent in Arizona that argues against bringing the wolves back. There is the usual argument about its endangering people and other animals, as well as a disagreement about the science and history of the wolves in the Southwest. This article also notes that reintroduction is a cruel experiment: “The only people seeming to enjoy this cruel experiment are the scientists or government employees who get to run around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest catching, snaring, tagging, taking wolf pups out of their dens and moving them to other dens, and wolf proponents that do not have to witness this cruelty to the wolves and people who live and work in these areas.”


    The interesting thing about the issue of cruelty is that this was written by Dan Bell of the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association. The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind here, but it may just be that Mr. Bell is smarter than the wolf hunters in the Northwest (which isn’t saying much). The wolf haters up here (speaking particularly of Idaho) post their pictures of dead wolves and of grinning hunters posing in front of terrified animals in traps. Of course there is the advice on how to also make the wolves suffer: “The best way to fatally wound a wolf without killing it instantly is to shoot it in the gut, preferably with armor-piercing ammunition. Unlike soft lead-tipped bullets, which mushroom inside the body cavity and kill quickly, heavy-jacketed AP ammo pierces the target and blows out the other side. This has two advantages: The first is that, especially with a gut shot, the animal will suffer. It will bleed out slowly, run a mile or so in terrified panic, and collapse. Then it will die.”


    So, maybe Mr. Bell is smart enough to realize that that kind of hatred directed to wildlife is likely to turn off at least some members of the general public and lose supporter for the hunts. Maybe. Let’s hope. Judging from the article from Arizona and the comments following, the wolves will probably not fare well once returned.

    If anyone wants to have a literary fantasy about wolf hunters getting their just punishment, try reading Dave Foreman’s novel, “The Lobo Outback Funeral Home.”

  2. The facts are 87% of AZ people want the USFW to manage the Wolves and Wildlife with non-lethal methods, but the USFW is controlled by the minority of hunters and ranchers. Ranchers and Hunters are welfareist groups leaching off the government subsidies to finance their special interest to kill animals on the tax payers dime. We need to stand tall and loud to stop them, but what I see is these “conservation” groups still trying to compromise with sociopathic murderers. We need to make it known we will not stand for this corruption in our government agencies. Maybe people are so scared to do this because the NRA? I don’t know, but until we get private money out of our government, we can be assured these fat beer bellied white racists bigots will kill every last animal there is.

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