Hunting by any other name is still hunting

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/column/guest/gordon-douglas-hunting-by-any-other-name-is-still-hunting/article_e1a4bc49-0854-5519-b67d-9cfb26fa6d47.html

By Gordon Douglas Special to the Arizona Daily Star

It’s hard not to chuckle at how hard some people have to work to not say something. A great example is Gerry Perry’s Dec. 23 guest opinion, “Hunting benefits Arizona.”

He extols the virtues of “harvesting nature’s surplus” and “reconnecting with nature’s ecosystems in a meaningful way.” You’d almost think he was talking about catching apples falling from a tree or hiking a wilderness. What he’s desperately avoiding are the words shooting, killing, wounding or suffering. That “meaningful connection” he’s talking about is going into an ecosystem, finding an animal and killing it.

Even the use of the word hunting is basically a way to avoid describing the actual intent of the activity. Photographers, naturalists and those who enjoy observing wildlife all “hunt” for wild animals. What sets “hunters” apart is killing the animals once they find them.

He notes game may be killed for food, but does not acknowledge that many animals are not eaten but are killed for trophies, so the hunter can brag “I killed that,” or are just killed for the fun of it. Those of us who eat meat recognize it is necessary to kill animals for that purpose, but we call the place for that a slaughterhouse, not a chicken collection center or cattle aggregation area.

[Ok, here the article’s author lacks insight into his own complicity in killing farmed animals–he doesn’t have to eat meat. But read on; he makes some great points in the next few paragraphs…]

He correctly points out how hunters provide funding for wildlife management. What he doesn’t say is that through this funding mechanism hunters essentially control how wildlife is managed.

Public lands and their wildlife are operated as a shooting preserve for hunters. Rather than a responsibility of all Arizonans, game animals are looked at as the private property of hunters to be exploited to the maximum extent possible. Natural predators are usually reduced or eliminated, since the value of animals is measured in the number of targets and carcasses for hunters.

He lauds hunting as making it possible to bring back many species from near extinction, which is a mind-boggling reversal of reality. The species were nearly made extinct by hunting. Species are not saved by killing; they are saved by not killing. Animals can be saved for their intrinsic value, instead of bred to be slaughtered for pleasure. The endangered species act was not passed so we could shoot pandas.

A few other items carefully avoided in the piece are the number of people accidentally killed or wounded in hunting accidents, the number of children killed or wounded in accidents from hunting weapons carelessly left in homes, and the general gun carnage in our nation fueled in part by the fanatical resistance of many hunters to any sort of reasonable restrictions on guns of any type.

Hunting involves the use of lethal weapons, and that always carries a tragic price.

Much money is indeed spent on hunting, but this money would be spent in other ways if not for hunting. These other ways could well provide even more significant benefits to our state.

America has a centuries-old hunting tradition. In all likelihood that tradition will continue into the foreseeable future. But in the mean time, let’s stop playing word games, honestly face what we are doing, and recognize the costs as well as benefits.

Mexican Wolf plan reignites passions

 

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

http://azdailysun.com/news/wolf-plan-reignites-passions/article_36d3ccd2-5e45-11e3-b1a0-0019bb2963f4.html

by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS and DAILY SUN STAFF

An area set aside in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona for the recovery of Mexican gray wolves is not big enough, according to a regional official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We can’t, over time, maintain genetic viability in the little area that they have,” said Southwest

Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle.

The agency has proposed expanding the range of the wolves and as a result has reignited passions about whether and where humans should coexist with the predators.

Ranchers and rural families were outraged as the plan was discussed at a public meeting on Tuesday in Pinetop. A similar meeting took place last month in Albuquerque, N.M., where environmentalists spoke in favor of the proposal.

The federal agency hadn’t planned to have any meetings in Arizona but was pressured by politicians to allow Arizonans the chance to speak as well.

Under the current proposed plan, wolves would be allowed to live in forested habitat as far north as Interstate 40. The USFWS is considering removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list nationwide and designating the Mexican gray wolf as a protected subspecies. But it would likely

keep its experimental population designation. That means that if wolves left their designated borders, they would be captured and removed.

However, biologists have identified the Grand Canyon region as some of the last, best territory for wolves. Although few people live in the area, the reintroduction has been blocked in part by hunters who want to protect big game on the North Kaibab.

“It’s up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to go forward and do their jobs based on the best available science and not the politics of state and federal agencies,” said Emily Nelson of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project. “We might see the opportunity slip by us if we’re not outspoken about wanting to see wolves in the Grand Canyon.”

The State of Utah has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a group called Big Game Forever to

lobby against the lobo and its potential reintroduction to the North Rim. The group was audited at the request of Democratic state legislators after receiving payments of $300,000 the past two years for unspecified lobbying purposes, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The lobbying group said it was fighting the Mexican gray wolf’s reintroduction, which many in southern Utah fear will quickly migrate into the remote region.

a test of time

The Mexican wolf was reintroduced in 1998. Biologists say there are at least 75 wolves in the wild in the two states. Federal officials believe it’s necessary to make more room for packs — 14 at last count — to squeeze the most from a limited gene pool.

Nelson said that whatever happens with the official reintroduction plan, she’s optimistic about the chances of wolves in northern Arizona.

“I’m always very optimistic that the wolves will come here on their own because the wolves will follow the best habitat and seek out the best places to find mates,” Nelson said. “I think the people of northern Arizona are much more supportive of wolf recovery. Every public poll in Arizona has shown the majority of people support wolf recovery in the Grand Canyon region.”

 

But many local elected officials from rural areas of the state spoke out against expanded wolf reintroduction at the meeting in Pinetop on Tuesday.

 

“The sad truth is that the wolves are already here,” Globe Mayor Terry Wheeler said during Tuesday’s meeting.

 

But if they’re released in Gila County as proposed, he said, wolves will soon be in Scottsdale “munching down on pink Pomeranians.”

 

Others in the crowd of about 300 people responded with pronouncements of hysteria or “lobophobia” after several people angrily accused the government of endangering children. Biologists said wolves are wild animals requiring caution but they have not attacked anyone since reintroduction began.

 

Members of the White Mountain Apache and Havasupai tribes spoke for protection. A group of Havasupai elders said they wanted to see wolves inside the Grand Canyon.

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to more than double the area in which captive wolves could be released to 12,500 square miles. The release zone currently is restricted to the southern Apache National Forest, but it would grow north and west to the Payson area, including the full Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and three ranger districts in the Tonto National Forest. It would also expand east in New Mexico, across Gila National Forest and into Cibola National Forest.

 

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Wolf protection plan raises hackles in Southwest

By Julie Cart
October 26, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

ALBUQUERQUE — In the small, rural community of Reserve, children waiting for the school bus gather inside wooden and mesh cages provided as protection from wolves. Parents consider the “kid cages” a reasonable precaution.

Defenders of the wolves note there have been no documented wolf attacks in New Mexico or Arizona. Fears of wolves attacking humans, they say, are overblown, and the cages nothing more than a stunt.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walkingIn 1995, the reintroduction of Canadian gray wolves into the northern Rockies ignited a furor.

Now that acrimony has cascaded into the Southwest, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to extend Endangered Species Act protections for an estimated 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

Such protections would make it illegal to kill wolves in most instances. The new federal plan would also significantly expand the area where the wolves could roam unmolested.

To many conservatives in the West, such protections are examples of government overreach — idealistic efforts by officials who don’t know what it’s like to live with wolves.

“People have to stand up and defend our rights,” said Wink Crigler, a fifth-generation rancher from Arizona who says guests at her tourist cabins fear they might be attacked by wolves.

Anti-wolf campaigns here — paid for by conservative political organizations antagonistic toward the federal government — often portray the animal as a savage devil preying on children.

The antipathy has encouraged scores of illegal killings of Mexican wolves, whose population dwindled to seven before federal efforts to reintroduce them began in 1998. A young male wolf was fatally shot with an arrow a few weeks ago in the same rural Catron County that uses the kid cages.

Into this atmosphere have come federal officials who by the end of the year are expected to finalize their plan for managing Mexican wolves, a smaller and tawnier subspecies of the Canadian grays.

“With the political debate we see raging, we can’t just listen to the loudest voice in the room,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “There are many loud voices in the room. No animal engenders more polarizing emotion among Americans than does the wolf.”]]

It is a public policy debate driven not just by biology and science, but by emotional appeals and unalloyed partisanship.

When a previously scheduled Oct. 4 public comment hearing about wolf management was postponed by the government shutdown, advocates came out anyway, staking out nearby meeting rooms at an Albuquerque hotel.

The Save the Lobo rally, paid for by Defenders of Wildlife, featured a man in a wolf costume, children scrawling placards with crayons and people offering videotaped testimony to be forwarded to Washington.

Down the hall, an anti-wolf event was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by the conservative Koch brothers. The group offered literature by Ayn Rand and screened the documentary “Wolves in Government Clothing,” which equated rampaging wolves with an out-of-control federal government. Said one Arizona rancher at the event: “Is this politically driven? Absolutely.”

An armed guard patrolled — made necessary, Americans for Prosperity said, by death threats from environmental groups.

The issue of public safety loomed large, with much discussion of the kid cages, boxy structures that resemble chicken coops. Photos and video of the cages have been circulated by Americans for Prosperity, although it was unclear how many exist or who requested or paid for them. Local media reports suggest at least some of them were built by students in a high school shop class.

Calls to the superintendent of schools in Reserve were not returned.

To Carolyn Nelson, a teacher in Catron County, the cages don’t go far enough to protect children. She said that seven years ago her son, then 14, was out walking and came across three wolves. Frightened, he backed against a tree. One wolf stared him down while the other two circled.

Only when the boy cocked the gun he was carrying did the wolves run off. “I think it was a miracle he wasn’t killed,” she said.

Continue the story here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-wolves-20131027,0,2078501.story?page=2#axzz2j2HBeocx

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Arizona’s wolves another casualty of federal shutdown

Scott: Make decisions for species based on science, not politics

By David Scott My Turn Wed Oct 9, 2013copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Closed national parks and monuments have become a symbol of the cost of the federal government shutdown.

Vacation plans are on hold, local economies are hurting, hundreds of thousands of Americans are temporarily out of work, and without the federal agencies in charge of monitoring pollution, many Americans have been left vulnerable. So, too, has our wildlife.

Without U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers on the beat, animals such as wolves are at risk — both in the short term from immediate dangers, including poachers, and over the long term from delays in making important management decisions that affect their future recovery.

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened species. The proposal would remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across nearly the entire lower 48 states, despite the fact that there are still few, if any, wolves in the vast majority of their former range.

It is a critical time for wolves. Yet public hearings scheduled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed delisting have been delayed, to be rescheduled when the government re-opens.

This is also a critical time for Mexican gray wolves, the smallest, rarest, southernmost-occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of North American gray wolf. Although the Mexican wolf would be listed as endangered, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to keep and expand its “experimental nonessential status,” even though it remains one of the most endangered animals in North America.

Virtually exterminated in the U.S. by 1970, Mexican wolves were reintroduced north of the border in 1998. But by early 2013 there were still only about 75 Mexican wolves living in the wild in the U.S. These animals are “essential” and should have the full protection of the Endangered Species Act.

Wolf recovery has been one of our greatest Endangered Species Act success stories. Stripping away federal protections now, before the population has fully recovered, will negate the decades of hard work that have gone into bringing wolves back from the brink of extinction in this country.

Without federal protections, this magnificent symbol of our wild heritage will almost assuredly slide back into harm’s way. Wolf hunting seasons have been reintroduced over the last two years in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and more than 550 wolves were killed by hunters or trappers in the Northern Rockies last season alone.

Wolves are among North America’s most charismatic animals. The howl of the wolf is emblematic of our country’s last wild places, reminding us of the power and beauty of the natural world. The oldest and largest ancestor of domestic dogs, wolves once ranged from coast to coast and from Alaska to Mexico, but these magnificent animals have been victims of prejudice since their early encounters with people.

Targeted by bounty hunters for their pelts, they were poisoned, trapped, and shot, until by the 1970s, wolves remained only in remote areas of Minnesota and Michigan in the lower 48 states.

The tide began to turn in 1973 when Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act, and wolves received official protection that same year. Since then, thanks to these federal protections, wolf populations have rebounded in the continental United States.

In response to public outcry and the advocacy of conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s. Today, there are about 1,600 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and some 3,700 in the Great Lakes states.

Wolves are vitally important to maintaining nature’s balance throughout their habitat, culling out weak and sick animals among their prey, which helps keep deer and elk populations healthy and in check. (Over the last two decades, exploding deer populations have been wreaking havoc on ecosystems from the Rockies to New England and the Great Lakes to the Deep South.)

Wolf reintroduction has also been a factor in the reappearance of willow and aspen trees, the return of beavers, and increased populations of red foxes throughout gray wolf habitat. Wolves are even helping local economies as people from across the country come to view these inspiring icons of wild America.

The current proposal to strip gray wolves of federal protections reflects a political desire, not scientific reality. The proposal is based on a single study that has not been peer-reviewed and relies on a wildlife classification theory that is not generally accepted within the scientific community.

In fact, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Proposed Rule Removing the Gray Wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Endangered Species Act. Now is the time to finish the job of wolf recovery, not abandon the gray wolf to the same kinds of destructive forces that endangered them in the first place.

David Scott is president of the Sierra Club.

Wolves are here, so should hearing be about their future

Article, including video, here:
http://www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20130918bring-tough-wolf-hearing-arizona-editorial.html

Our View: Debate will be tough, but Arizona should host it
By Editorial boardThe Republic | azcentral.comFri Sep 20, 2013 12:38 PM

The reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves to Arizona is a victory that requires more nurturing to become a true triumph. We need more wolves and an expanded recovery area.

Arizona’s role is undeniable. Primary releases occur in our state, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department played a key role in management efforts.

It is ridiculous that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not schedule hearings in Arizona to discuss proposed changes in the program.

Hearings are planned for this month in Washington, D.C., and next month in Sacramento, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M.

Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain and Rep. Paul Gosar sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel requesting a hearing in our state. Arizona’s Game and Fish Commission wants the same thing.

It makes sense.

Establishing a healthy population of lobos in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico has been fraught with controversy.

Some ranchers don’t like accommodating the public’s desire to restore wolves to public land that is also used for grazing.

Some environmentalists are dissatisfied with wolf management that resulted in many wolves being killed or removed.

A hearing in Arizona means passionate debate. That’s fine. Nobody said this was easy.

Arizona deserves a continued voice in the worthwhile effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves.

Agreement limits relocation of wild wolves

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

PHOENIX — Federal officials have agreed not to try to capture and relocate wolves entering Arizona from Mexico.

In a deal approved Monday in federal court, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider wolves found wandering outside the current reintroduction boundary areas to be wild. The agency is, in essence, revoking the permission it gave itself to capture and relocate the animals.

Michael Robinson of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity said the settlement is a crucial step in helping reintroduce the wolf population to its natural habitats in Arizona.

Robinson said the issue arose two years ago when Mexico began reintroducing wolves into its northern regions, a few dozen miles south of the area where Arizona and New Mexico meet.

What happened, he said, is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on its own, then gave itself a permit — without public notice — to capture any wolf that might cross the border and cause problems with livestock.

The agency already has the power to capture and relocate those wolves being reintroduced into Arizona and New Mexico in an effort to keep them from preying on cattle. That is because the whole reintroduction program is being conducted under rules that specifically consider the wolves in the program to be a “nonessential population.’’

But Robinson said there is no reason to unilaterally decide wolves that wander into Arizona on their own should be treated in a similar fashion.

More to the point, he said it’s illegal. Robinson said the rules that govern the domestic reintroduction program, including relocation, do not apply to wolves that were not placed by the United States government but instead wandered into this country on their own.

“These wolves, under the law, are fully protected’’ as an endangered species,’’ Robinson said. “And you can’t simply sacrifice them under the law for special interests, in this case, the livestock industry.’’

Robinson said it is impossible to determine whether any of the wolves released by the Mexican government have, in fact, made their way into the United States.

In essence, the lawsuit settlement recognizes the rules require that if a wolf is found outside the reintroduction area — or other areas where the animals have been welcome — it is required to presume the animal is “of wild origin with full endangered status.’’ And that can be overcome only with other evidence the wolf is of domestic origin and reintroduced, like a radio collar or identification mark.

Robinson said the settlement may actually help wolf reintroduction in this country.

He said the latest report shows there are 75 wolves in the program, including 37 in Arizona. But that includes only three breeding pairs.

Robinson said inbreeding results in smaller litter sizes. He said wolves released in Mexico that manage to make their way across the border could help diversify the population.

The current wolf reintroduction area includes the Apache and Gila national forests as well as lands where the owners have said they are welcoming the animals. Robinson said that includes the Fort Apache Reservation as well as property owned in New Mexico by media mogul Ted Turner.

Breaking Down the Means of Stupidity

sarah-palin-lope-navo1

http://boldvisions.businesscatalyst.com/opinion.html

by Stephen Capra

Another weekend is about to pass in New Mexico, and another group enjoyed killing innocent animals. So goes it, in the modern, or perhaps throwback American West. South of Albuquerque, in Valencia County is a special place of hell for animals. It is known as Gun Hawk. It is a gun shop owned by people of greed, which make their money off the killing of innocent animals. Their method is to sponsor “killing contests” of coyotes, prairie dogs, and perhaps if they had their way, wolves.

This so-called company thrives on the negative publicity they receive, because like conservation groups, it allows them to become a cause, only they are a cause for fools. You see, if you use the words freedom enough, and talk about heritage, you will have an ample supply of cowboys, young guns, Tea Partiers and worse yet the media, which will quote everything you say without a moments fact checking.

So what this pathetic company is doing is creating a working model for others to emulate in the future. Their bravado is empowering to communities like Clovis, and allows them to take their stand despite science, compassion and simple reason. When George Bush was President many of us protested his war, his environmental policies, his views on abortion. We did it like Americans before us had. We made our case clear and went to the streets to make our case. We did not harm people with whom we disagreed. What has changed is how those on the other side approach dissent. They plant bombs and kill those that believe in a woman’s right to choose. They carry on very public killings of innocent animals, not just for fun, but because they know it is painful to us and they want us to see the carcasses of their personal rage.

To counter this opposition will require that the conservation movement, like Silicon Valley be open to new ways of engaging and fighting for our principles. We cannot speak to these people and try to reason. It is like a conversation with a sociopath, and they simply would not understand the language. I believe in organizing. I see it as essential, but the time has come where you must go from talk to action. Reason is not a guaranteed part of success.

Last week we were in Clovis, we spent time looking at the prairie dogs. Our supplemental feeding and some rain have brought them back to health. I watched as they played and as they stood guard over their territory and thought to myself, they have no idea what is occurring, no idea of the fight. Then another thought occurred, perhaps they do, perhaps they are preparing themselves for what may come. They are hoping for freedom, but resigned to death. Animals sense what is not spoken. They live with dignity and they die with even more.

So we are going to save them, which is not a goal; it is part of the center of our heart and part of our commitment to them. We spoke with the Mayor, the paper and listened to rage, and to phony religious ramblings. As they spoke I searched for their pulse. I looked deeply into their eyes trying to see their personal pain. Was it childhood, was it divorce, it matters not. We all have burdens to overcome, that is the essence of life. When they were done, I knew that our job was far from over.

The earth is heating up, this we know. Many continue to deny that climate change is real. I mention this because people are also heating up. Reason and civility are being lost as the planet continues to boil, as our artic ice melts. It would be easy to say, I want no part of this, I want a home in the country, or to move to Europe. Part of modern society, is a staunch reality that as humans we must be able to absorb more pain and visually see the result of our actions.

The challenge that we all face is how to get us on the right course. We have so many great alternatives, and it begins demanding that we share this planet with all animals-forever. Be it Clovis, be it Africa, or be it the bounty and beauty of our oceans. Stare into the eyes of an animal; you will experience one thing-love.

We can never rest while wolves are being slaughtered. While Coyotes and prairie dogs are killed for fun and laughter. However, we must change tactics, and we must be forceful in our message. People who kill for fun are cowards. What is occurring in simplification- humanity is being bullied. The way for change is to confront the bully, without fear. With this hot powered strength, the bully will yield.

We will soon begin airing our gorilla commercials to fight for the prairie dogs of Clovis and we have plans for a certain gun shop as well. Please help if you can, it’s time we all stare down the bully and share the land with our true kin, the lives that live it wild.

A very wise and learned man stated succinctly my feelings, “When you destroy nature you destroy one’s own nature as well. It kills the song.” Thank you Joseph Campbell

Public review begins for expansion of Mexican wolf habitat

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mexican-wolf-habitat-20130806,0,2399491.story

By Julie Cart
August 6, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

The Interior Department this week opened to public comment and review its proposal to expand the range of federally protected Mexican wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been attempting to reintroduce wolves into parts of Arizona and New Mexico with little success. A small population of about 75 wolves is restricted to a recovery area, and when an animal roams beyond those borders, it must be recaptured and returned.

Allowing wolves more room will increase their numbers and genetic diversity, biologists say. Livestock growers and others oppose any expansion of wolf territory.

Federal officials earlier this year proposed delisting gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes but preserved the endangered species status of Mexican wolves.

The agency is considering five alternatives, and the public has until Sept. 19 to comment.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Mohave County board opposes bigger wolves area

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — Mohave County is on record as saying Mexican gray wolves aren’t welcome in the northwestern Arizona county.

The Kingman Daily Miner (http://bit.ly/1epSnXT ) reports that a resolution approved unanimously Monday by the Board of Supervisors says the wolves aren’t welcome unless they’ve been vaccinated, have a dog license and have been spayed or neutered.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying the possibility of expanding the range that Mexican gray wolves could roam in Arizona and New Mexico.

Some livestock owners and hunting guides oppose any expansion, saying the wolves would endanger their livelihoods by killing cattle and wild game.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator Sherry Barrett says spaying or neutering the animals would defeat the project’s purpose. She says wolves are vaccinated before being released.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Plan would expand range in Arizona for gray wolves

The Associated Press

Posted: 08/04/2013 01:40:11 PM MDT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.—The federal government is floating a plan that would let endangered Mexican gray wolves roam north toward Flagstaff and across Arizona for the first time in generations.
The Arizona Daily Sun reports (http://bit.ly/1bZONIg ) that the government’s wolf reintroduction program has limited the animals to a recovery area that straddles the Arizona-New Mexico state line, where they have struggled to gain a foothold. Currently, any wolf leaving the recovery area is captured and returned.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft of proposed changes last month that, if put into effect, would let wolves roam from western Arizona to eastern New Mexico between Interstates 40 and 10.

The draft includes potential wolf reintroduction sites in northern Arizona on the Tonto National Forest, throughout the Sitgreaves National Forest and other public lands, as well as private lands where there’s a participating landowner. The Apache tribe has an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that has allowed wolves to roam on their lands in eastern Arizona.

The Mexican wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. The 15-year effort to reintroduce them in New Mexico and Arizona has stumbled due to legal battles, illegal shootings, politics and other problems.

The federal proposal calls for expanding the area where the wolves could roam to include parts of the Cibola National Forest in central New Mexico. In all, there would be a tenfold increase in the area where biologists are working to rebuild the population.
Environmentalists welcomed the prospect of expansion, but they voiced concerns about provisions that could create loopholes that would expand circumstances in which wolves could be killed for attacking livestock or for other reasons.

Wolves have been spotted in the past as close to Flagstaff as Mormon Lake and Holbrook along Interstate 40, as the animals are capable of traveling vast distances in search of food and mates.

Emily Nelson of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project in Flagstaff said in an interview with the Daily Sun that conservation groups were unhappy with the initial federal proposal because it doesn’t include some of the “last, best area for wolves.”

Scientists have identified the Grand Canyon as prime wolf territory.

While the current population has never gotten close to the goal of 100 wolves, scientists say as many as 200 wolves could be supported in the Grand Canyon region alone.

Judy Prosser, whose family operates a ranch south of Mormon Lake and owns some 2,000 head of livestock, would see her grazing lands put inside the expanded wolf recovery area.

Prosser said that her ranching friends in the current recovery area have struggled and not been happy with the way things were managed. Losing livestock has affected their pocketbooks.

“The program has not been successful. I don’t think anyone has been happy with the outcome,” she said.

———

Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/