Science, majority of Utahns support return of the Lobo

Standard Examiner (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted January 24, 2016 by Kim Crumbo

I read with interest Leia Larsen's recent "Conservationists Howl for Mexican wolf Protection in Utah" (Jan. 4 Standard-Examiner). I've served as a conservationist stakeholder on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Team and take issue with the Utah's governor's position opposing recovery of this species.

Twice in the past decade (2003 and 2010), the USFWS has convened two official recovery teams to develop an up-to-date (both legally and scientifically) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. Both team's scientists reach complementary conclusions, based on the best available science, to develop a credible recovery plan for the Mexican wolf, also known as the Lobo. The current Recovery Team's Science subgroup, whose members include six internationally respected carnivore scientists, recommended a minimum of three naturally connected subpopulations comprising a total population of at least 750 wolves within Arizona, southern Colorado and southern Utah.

In addition, recent genetic research indicates that the Lobo and other wolf subspecies historically mixed within southern Utah and Colorado. Although adapted to a harsher environment, the smaller Mexican wolf has proven quite capable of surviving on larger prey common throughout their existing and proposed expanded recovery areas.

Finally, fairly recent polls demonstrate that a majority of Utahns want wolves back. Unfortunately, the state government continues to insist on a decidedly anti-wolf, anti-science stance. For example, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources commented to the USFWS that recovery of wolves in Utah "will be vigorously opposed (legally and politically) by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the State of Utah."

It is high time Utah's state government and wildlife agency honor not only the best available science, but the wishes of a majority of its citizens to welcome home the Lobo.

Kim Crumbo