Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe
Goal: Ensure that the state of Arizona does not obtain control over the management of the endangered Mexican gray wolf
Recently, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission endorsed a plan that will make it far easier to kill endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The commission recommends that management of the wolves be taken away from the federal government and given to the state of Arizona, which has a long history of hostility towards wolves. The proposal was recently sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will decide how to proceed. Urge Service Director Dan Ashe to reject the plan and demand that the wolves remain under the protection of the federal government.
The proposal, called the “cooperating agencies alternative” consists of several previously rejected policies that failed to promote wolf recovery in the past. If enacted, it could spell extinction for Mexican wolves in the wild. It limits the numbers of animals arbitrarily, restricts the recovery area, and promotes more frequent removal and killing of wolves. The proposal arbitrarily caps the number of wolves in both states at 300, allowing for a number as low as 125.
The Mexican wolf is the most endangered gray wolf in North America and efforts were made in the late twentieth century to recolonize the animals in their former historical range in Arizona and New Mexico. It was listed as endangered in 1976 and the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team was formed shortly thereafter. Four deaths occurred in 2012, all due to illegal shootings. The population now stands at about 83 individuals in Arizona and New Mexico.
The commission called a last-minute telephone meeting to advance their plan, despite stating publically that it would not be addressed until its June meeting. In developing the proposal, the agency consulted with groups that have historically objected to wolf recovery, including livestock interests, trappers, and hunting groups, but made no effort to include groups that have supported wolf recovery. The document was not made available for review until just before the telephone meeting, and members of the public were required to be present at the Game and Fish office in Phoenix, rather than being able to participate from satellite offices throughout the state as is normal procedure.
Urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to retain control over the management of the small population of Mexican gray wolves left in the wild. Under federal management, wolf recovery is making progress. If left to the state of Arizona, these animals will most likely be killed to extinction.
Dear Director Ashe,
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is rushing policies to hinder the recovery of a highly endangered species, the Mexican gray wolf. It has endorsed an alternative management plan that is contrary to federal law and scientific consensus, and will most likely cause the extinction of this species in the wild.
The alternative plan would grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency, which kills predators for ranchers, sweeping authority to decide which wolves to kill. It would constrain future U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision-making on what standards to use in removing the Mexican wolf from the endangered species list. Your agency would be relegated to reporting once every three years on the status of the wolf population and disposing of the carcasses of wolves on an ongoing basis, instead of protecting this endangered species.
I urge you to retain control over management of wolf recovery efforts. Allowing the state of Arizona to take control would be a death sentence for this small, fragile population of wolves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons