Local & Regional News

Wolf plan needs more public outreach, education

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Editorial Posted July 26, 2017

There used to be wolves on the North Rim and the North Kaibab forest, but not anymore.

And there are no plans to reintroduce them anytime soon.

On paper, that seems like a missed opportunity. If there is one place in Arizona where wolves and humans might stand a chance of coexisting, it would be the nearly roadless forests and plateaulands north of the Grand Canyon.

The reason wolves, both the northern gray and Mexican gray subspecies, disappeared from southern and central Arizona was human hunting. When the ranges were opened to cattle and sheep, the wolves became threats to livelihoods and were eliminated. Ranchers in the White Mountains still have that attitude, and even 100 reintroduced wolves are too many.

But the North Rim and North Kaibab, along with three national monuments in the region, don’t have those kinds of conflicts. The national park has no cattle, and there are very few grazing allotments left on the North Kaibab. The reason wolves and other predators were killed off a century ago was because they preyed on deer and elk that trophy hunters prized for their antlers.

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Wolf plan gets skeptical greeting at Flagstaff meeting

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted July 19, 2017 by Emery Cowan

Federal wildlife managers in charge of a new draft recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf received a barrage of questions during a public meeting Tuesday night that suggest the plan still has many skeptics.

Many people during the three hour event in Flagstaff asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to defend both its wolf population targets as well as provisions in the newly released plan that limit the wolves to an area south of Interstate-40 in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico.

Alicyn Gitlin with the Sierra Club was one of those who questioned why the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t consider areas near the Grand Canyon for potential future Mexican wolf habitat, noting it is a relatively conflict-free roadless area with prey availability and the necessary vegetation.

“How can you be so sure that the Grand Canyon was not part of the historic range of the Mexican wolf?” Gitlin said.

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Wolves need bigger, connected territories

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted July 19, 2017 by Pearish Smith

I am writing this letter in response to the situation with the Mexican gray wolves. I am a physician and outdoors person who deeply cares about human and animal wellbeing. I am upset with the proposed recovery plan because it seems the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to serve politics over science.

The previous recovery planning science team clearly identified what the wolves need, yet those findings are being ignored in the proposed recovery plan.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hand the management of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program to the states. This was unsuccessful in the past and wolf numbers diminished and genetic diversity decreased. If this continues, it will likely drive the lobo to extinction.

The Mexican gray wolf draft recovery plan includes shortsighted delisting criteria for the critically endangered wolf. The plan allows for delisting the wolf after 22 wolves released from captivity reach reproductive age. But we know that just reaching reproductive age does not ensure their genes will be contributed to the wild population.

Poaching is a one major threat to survivability. Also Mexican gray wolves need connectivity between wild populations in order to recover. Connectivity would be easy were they allowed to establish in the two additional suitable habitats in the U.S.: the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies.

Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the proposal restricts the wolves to south of Interstate 40. These are just a few issues.



Bring wolves to Hart Prairie

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted July 16, 2017 by Gretchen Markiewicz

I am a retired teacher and community volunteer, with a great love for the outdoors. I read, with interest, your article dated June 30, which shared information about the newly released draft plan for wolf recovery in our area. Thank you for publishing it.

The Mexican Gray Wolf is native to this area but was hunted to near extinction by the mid 1900s. Wolves are predators that are needed in forested terrain, where elk and deer roam, to keep the ecosystem healthy. They not only cull the old and the sick in these ungulate populations, but create habitat for birds, fish, and many other animals by keeping deer and elk moving, so that they do not destroy vegetation and muddy streams.

The Grand Canyon region is prime habitat for these wolves, yet the proposed plan calls for restricting wolf territory to south of I-40 in Arizona and New Mexico. The report acknowledges that a minimum population of at least 320 wolves would have to survive over a period of several years in order to be recovered. This number is almost three times the number of wolves currently living in the wild. In order to be sustainable, wolves need more territory, not less, and more captive wolves need to be released into the wild to improve genetic diversity and increase their numbers.

I live in Hart Prairie and would be thrilled to hear the howl of wolves in my backyard. They will bring health to our forests and restore the balance.



New recovery plan has no wolves on North Rim

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted June 30, 2017 by Susan Montoya Bryan of the Associated Press. A similar article was published by the Santa Fe New Mexican, Mohave Daily News, and Tucson.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After repeated failures over decades, U.S. wildlife officials have finally drafted a recovery plan for endangered wolves that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to complete the plan for the Mexican gray wolf by the end of November.

The draft document released Thursday calls for focusing recovery of the wolves in core areas of the predators' historic range. That means south of Interstate 40 in the two states and in Mexico, and not as far north as the North Rim, as some groups wanted. The document also addresses threats, such as genetic diversity.

"At the time of recovery, the service expects Mexican wolf populations to be stable or increasing in abundance, well-distributed geographically within their historical range, and genetically diverse," the agency said in a statement.

That didn't wash with many conservation groups.

“It is critical that some of the best habitat in Arizona for wolves – the Grand Canyon region – be part of this recovery effort,” said Emily Renn, Executive Director of Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project. “Capping the population and limiting the region for recovery so severely is not a recipe for a recovered Mexican wolf population.”

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