Local & Regional News

Press Release: Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf, “Esperanza,” Applies to Join Arizona Game Commission

Esperanza for AZGF Commission

For Immediate Release, October 26, 2017

Media contacts:
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520) 623-1878
Sandy Bahr, Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club (602) 999-5790
Emily Renn, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project (928) 202-1325

Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf, “Esperanza,” Applies to Join Arizona Game Commission

SPRINGERVILLE, AZ— An application to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey for a seat on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission was submitted today on behalf of the alpha female of the Panther Creek Pack of Mexican gray wolves. Named “Esperanza” (“hope” in Spanish) by school children when she was a pup, the applicant is a lifelong resident of Greenlee County and a fifth-generation Arizonan who avidly supports the right to hunt. The application was accompanied by testimonials from other wolves, including her offspring, and a letter of support from over a dozen conservation organizations long concerned about the commission’s anti-wolf record.

“Pro-wolf Arizonans have felt underrepresented by the current commission and their votes to limit Endangered Species Act protections for Mexican wolves,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “The Game and Fish Commission has consistently ignored the majority of Arizonans that want to see wolf populations recover and expand throughout the state.”

For the past two years Esperanza and her Panther Creek Pack fostered pups from captive wolves; the biological parents of the cross-fostered pups were not released with their offspring because of an Arizona Game and Fish Commission policy that has blocked adult releases. Esperanza raised these pups as her own and mentored them in subsistence survival, all the while knowing instinctively that her species’ survival depends on increased adult wolves being released from captivity.

"The Game and Fish Commision has repeatedly approved the reintroductions of non-native species or species outside of their ranges for the sole purpose of sport hunting or fishing and yet, when it comes to a native, endangered species in Arizona that needs the available habitat in the Grand Canyon region to be recovered, they push for an arbitrary boundary that would allow no wolves north of Interstate 40," said Emily Renn, executive director of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.

“Having gotten to know the forests and meadows of the Panther Creek Pack’s home territory, and having sat through Arizona Game and Fish Commission meetings more times than I wish, I’m reluctant to subject Esperanza to the commission’s ugly politics,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Unfortunately, the future of Esperanza and her pack as well as other endangered lobos will be significantly affected by the anti-wolf agenda of the commission, so we need someone on the panel to counter it and to represent the pro-wolf majority.”

Conservationists tout Esperanza’s qualifications including her work as a hunting guide, excelling in her business despite healthy competition, and her history of volunteering on management hunts to limit excessive elk herbivory on sensitive riparian vegetation in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. She’s well informed about Arizona’s public lands and is passionate about game management issues.


More information about the applicant and the plight of Mexican wolves in the southwest can be found at www.mexicanwolves.org. Images are online and available for media use.

Game and Fish Study Concludes Most Mexican Gray Wolf Territory South of the Border

KNAU (Original) Posted October 2, 2017 by Ryan Heinsius

State wildlife managers have released a study highlighting the historical range of endangered Mexican gray wolves. It contends the animal’s territory was almost entirely in Mexico, but as KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, some conservation groups are skeptical of the findings.

The authors used ecological and other evidence to determine 90 percent of the wolf’s habitat was in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The paper, co-written by an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist, argues releasing Mexican gray wolves in northern Arizona would risk them breeding with other wolf species.

But groups like the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project dispute the paper. They say areas north of Interstate-40 and on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are crucial for their recovery.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a new management plan that would limit the animal’s range to southern Arizona and New Mexico. There were at least 113 Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest at last count.

Endangered Mexican wolf killed following livestock attacks

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted September 15, 2017 by Susan Montoya Bryan for the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been killed by federal employees after a Native American tribe requested the animal be removed from the wild in the wake of a string of cattle deaths near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The death of the female wolf marks the first time in a decade that efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to curb livestock attacks by the predators has had lethal consequences for one of the predators.

The decision to remove the member of the Diamond Pack was first made in June after three calves were killed over several days, sparking concern among wildlife managers about what they described as an unacceptable pattern of predation.

An investigation determined the female wolf was likely the culprit based on GPS and radio telemetry tracking.

Another calf was killed in July, prompting the White Mountain Apache Tribe to call for the removal. That was followed by one confirmed kill and another probable kill by members of the pack on national forest land adjacent to the reservation.

Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle issued another order in August calling for the wolf's removal by the most expeditious means possible.

"I am concerned with the numerous depredations in this area over the past year and the toll these depredations have caused the area's livestock producers," Tuggle wrote.

Environmentalists decried the move, saying they are concerned about the possibility of managers reverting to a rigid three-strikes rule that called for wolves to be removed from the wild or killed if they preyed on livestock. Following years of legal wrangling, federal officials revised that policy in 2015 to allow for more options when dealing with nuisance wolves.

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Biologists, wildlife managers divided on basics of wolf recovery

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted September 11, 2017 by Emery Cowan

A recently released federal recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf has received harsh criticism from three of the biologists the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pulled together six years ago in an unsuccessful attempt to draft the same type of recovery document.

“Overoptimistic assumptions,” “flawed” and “impractical” were among the words used in the biologists' comments on the federal plan. It sets a recovery goal of 320 wolves in an area of Arizona and New Mexico south of Interstate-40 and another 170 wolves in northern Mexico.

The biologists were part of a nine-member science advisory group that in 2012 concluded more than double that number of wolves spread out over a much larger range would be needed to establish a self-sustaining population in the Southwest.

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Business Leaders Want Mexican Wolves In Grand Canyon Area

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted on August 29, 2017 by the Associated Press

More than 60 business leaders have urged the federal government to release endangered Mexican gray wolves into the Grand Canyon area in northern Arizona and eastern Utah.

The business leaders are submitting their request in a joint letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The federal agency is seeking public comments on its draft plan that limits the wolf-recovery efforts to just one zone south of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico.

The business leaders include owners, managers and independent contractors from the tourism and service industries in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

They say the wolf-recovery efforts will have economic and environmental benefits.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to have a completed recovery plan by the end of November.

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