Local & Regional News

Four Letters to the Editor by Lobo Advocates in White Mountain Independent

White Mountain Independent (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted on July 27, 2018 by Kay Bordwell

Mexican Wolf recovery program story needs clarified, corrected

Thank you for the article of July 24 highlighting the Mexican Wolf recovery program from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Some of the information in that article needs to be clarified and corrected.

While the AZGF wildlife science coordinator confuses readers by saying “The sobering truth is that in the last decade, no captive-raised adult wolf released in the wild has subsequently raised pups in the wild to contribute to the gene pool,” what he fails to mention is that in the last decade there have been no releases if well-bonded adult wolves with pups. In fact, not only was the last adult release in 2015, there were only four other adult releases during the period 2008 through 2014.

It is a shame to see the Arizona Game and Fish Department characterize the partners they work with in cross-fostering as “zoos” when they know intimately that the facilities raising the adults who should be released are the very same facilities breeding the pups AZGFD uses in cross-fostering.

When it comes to credibility, the Department spokesperson’s claim of “misleading and disingenuous statements” from other groups should acknowledge a little history: The initial reintroduction of Mexican wolves, over Arizona’s objections, came as a result of a lawsuit by Center for Biological Diversity. The current 2015 reintroduction rule came as a result of a 2004 petition for rulemaking of CBD followed by a successful lawsuit in 2012. In contrast, Arizona’s attempts to limit wolf reintroduction include the 2011 limitation on releasing only “replacement” wolves for those killed in Arizona-later followed by a complete refusal to release any adults no matter how well bonded a family unit.

With the overwhelming support of Arizonians to reintroduce wolves it is important to inform the public accurately of the present situation with wolf recovery and allow the public to be well informed how Arizona Game and Fish are making decisions in the recovery of Mexican gray wolves.

Kay Bordwell,
Flagstaff

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Op-Ed: Wolves and cattle can't co-exist, so give Arizona public lands to the wolves

The Arizona Republic (Original) Op-Ed Posted on July 18, 2018 by Linda Valdez

Opinion: The highest and best use for Arizona's public lands is to support native plants and animals like the Mexican gray wolf, not cattle.

The ranchers were right: Wolves and cattle can’t share the public lands in Arizona and New Mexico.

The cows have to go.

Ranchers have had decades to make this work.

They failed – though, to be fair, a few have tried.

Why we need more wolves

But on the whole, the ranching industry has steadfastly opposed the effort to restore the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the southwest – an effort that began on public lands with the release of 11 wolves in 1998.

This month, a coalition of 25 conservation groups called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase genetic diversity and bolster the species recovery efforts by releasing captive adult wolves into the wild.

Groups representing cattle growers oppose the idea.

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Genetics research verifies Mexican wolf purity

Eastern Arizona Courier (Original) Posted July 4, 2018 by Ken Showers

Genetics research undertaken at the University of Arizona last month was able to prove the purity of the Mexican wolf, a new report stated.

One of more than 40 endangered animals listed in the state of Arizona, the wolf has been part of a captive breeding program for decades, and the purity of its lineage is a great concern to conservationists and legislators as they make policy concerning the animal.

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UA Genetics Research Verifies Purity of the Mexican Wolf

University of Arizona News (Original) Posted June 20, 2018 by Stacy Pigott, University Communications

In October 2015, two small minnows in the Lower Colorado River Basin — the headwater chub and the roundtail chub — were proposed for listing as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In April 2017, that proposal was withdrawn after new science identified the two small fish as members of the same species.

As technologies advance, genetic research is playing an increasingly important role in informing decisions about the conservation of threatened and endangered species. In addition to the roundtail chub, another recent example is the Mexican wolf.

The Mexican wolf is one of 43 animals listed as endangered in Arizona, where a captive breeding program for Canis lupus baileyi has been underway since the late 1970s, when the population dipped as low as seven wolves in the wild. The selective breeding of a small population brings with it specific genetic concerns: Are the genetics pure, or had the Mexican wolf, on its path to near-extinction, cross-bred with domestic dogs?

"It's a question that's been brought up since before the captive breeding population started," said Bob Fitak, a University of Arizona alumnus who wrote his dissertation on the Mexican wolf while working in Melanie Culver's conservation genetics laboratory at the UA. "Are we dealing with something that is actually a Mexican wolf, or is it something a bit different?"

Advances in genomic technology made it possible for researchers to find out. Earlier studies that examined the genetic purity of the Mexican wolf were hindered by small numbers — fewer than 10 Mexican wolves had been analyzed, none of which came from the original three captive lineages. Fitak and his colleagues genotyped 87 Mexican wolves representing a broad spectrum of pedigrees, including all three original captive lineages, a mixture of those lineages and wolves born in the wild.

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Captive-born Mexican wolf pups doing well

White Mountain Independent (Original) Posted June 22, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Eight young Mexican wolf pups are now being cared for and raised by surrogate wild wolf parents after a successful attempt to introduce them into existing wolf litters in Arizona and New Mexico. The young wolves were placed in their foster dens by scientists from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan group and Interagency Field Team (IFT), as a way to restore the rare gray wolf subspecies to its former range.

In a technique known as cross-fostering, four Mexican wolf pups were placed into wild dens in late April; two into a pack in Arizona and two into a pack in New Mexico. Last month, four more captive-born pups were cross-fostered into two wild dens; both in New Mexico. All of the pups were born at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri, and fostered out at two weeks old or less.

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