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.