Archive for the ‘mexican gray wolf’ Tag

Robinson gives talk on Gray Wolf recovery   Leave a comment

October 18, 2016 By Bill Charland, For the Sun-News

Micheal Robinson (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

SILVER CITY — Michael Robinson may have been preaching to the choir at Silver City’s Unitarian Universalist Church last Sunday, judging from the warm applause that greeted his presentation on the Mexican Gray Wolf. But as an advocate for restoring the wolf to the Gila Wilderness, he was probably due a welco
me reception. Robinson represents The Center for Biological Diversity, an activist organization that goes to bat for many species hovering on the brink of extinction.

The Gray Wolf is a special case among vanishing species, Robinson said in a phone interview. “Some 41 animal and plant species are well-documented as having become extinct since 1985. But wolves are unique in that their extinction was intentional.”

In his presentation, Robinson showed photos of federal trappers early in the 20th century who were employed full time to hunt down and kill wolves that had lived in harmony with Native American populations for centuries but threatened the livestock industry of European settlers. Theodore Roosevelt called the wolf “the beast of waste and destruction.”

The Mexican Gray Wolf or “Desert Wolf” of the Southwest was pursued even south of the border, until a growing environmental movement gave rise to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 under President Richard Nixon. Now the federal Fish and Wildlife Service received new marching orders. Instead of tracking down the Mexican Gray Wolf to destroy it, the agency was charged with finding any remnants in Mexico, for a breeding program to bring it back to life.

In 1998, a small pack of Mexican Gray Wolves, bred in captivity, was introduced to the Gila Wilderness of western New Mexico and the Apache National Forest of eastern Arizona. Today there are 97 wolves in the United States, about half in New Mexico, with another 25 or so in Mexico. It’s a precarious population with only six breeding pairs. And the wolves have been consistently under attack from certain ranchers who have felt under duress from their presence (albeit on public lands, Robinson notes) and by Congressman Steve Pearce and Governor Susana Martinez who have represented the livestock industry in legislation. Both have tangled with The Center for Biological Diversity.

Robinson believes that taking up the cause of the Mexican Gray Wolf involves more than making amends for its destruction by our government a century ago. “It’s also a matter of ecological balance,” he said. “Biologists call it the ‘trophic cascade.’ That is, if you remove a predator such as wolves from the top of a food chain, it has consequences all the way down through lower species.”

He cites the case of elk — 90 percent of the wolves’ diet — which have become sedentary around stream beds, consuming plant life and supplanting beavers. “You want elk to be roaming,” added Robinson, “and that requires wolves.” Wolves also contain coyotes. And, he said, in the absence of wolves and other natural predators, over-grazing of cattle denuded the grasslands surrounding Silver City, which contributed to the flood that left us the Big Ditch.

Robinson is the author of a book on the history of wolves in the United States, “Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West” (University Press of Colorado, 2005).


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Court Mandates New Recovery Plan for Mexican Gray Wolves   2 comments

October 18,2016 By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Federal wildlife officials are now under a court order to update a decades-old recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, a predator that has struggled to regain a foothold in the American Southwest despite millions of dollars of investment in reintroduction efforts.

An Arizona judge on Tuesday dismissed the concerns of ranchers and others and signed off on a settlement between environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Under the agreement, the federal agency must update the recovery plan by November 2017 while providing the court and other parties in the case with regular updates on the planning process.

Environmentalists have long argued that the agency had a legal obligation to adopt a recovery plan that spells out specific goals and milestones for returning the wolves to their historic range.

There are currently about 100 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

“This is official,” said Bryan Bird of the group Defenders of Wildlife. “We’ll have the best available science, and hopefully the Fish and Wildlife Service will move toward increasing the number of wolves in the wild.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the new plan will be published by the deadline. “Recovery of the Mexican wolf remains our goal. We aim to support natural wild wolf population growth and improve population genetics, eventually leading to species recovery and state management of the species,” the agency said in a statement.

Blair Dunn, an attorney for opponents of the settlement, said he was disappointed with the ruling and accused the federal government of catering to special interest groups.

The wolf recovery program, which spans parts of New Mexico and Arizona, has been hampered over the years by legal battles, politics and other issues. Environmentalists have pushed for the release of more captive wolves into the wild, but ranchers and local leaders have protested over concerns about livestock losses and public safety in rural communities.

Federal investigators concluded earlier this year that the Fish and Wildlife Service mishandled the recovery program, backing up claims by one New Mexico county that the agency was not cooperating with ranchers and protected wolves even after they preyed on cattle.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Zipps wrote in her order that the settlement was the product of fair and careful negotiations and that it did not set forth any specific provisions for recovering the species but only established a deadline for when the plan will be completed.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity said he doubts a recovery plan would have been formalized without legal pressure. He pointed to a handful of cases in which efforts to update the initial plan from 1982 stalled and ultimately failed.

“It’s clear that without court enforcement, the plan would have kept being right around the corner until the Mexican gray wolf went extinct,” he said.

The ruling could also affect an appeal that involves New Mexico’s denial of a permit to the federal government to release more wolves. The legal action was spurred by state concerns about the direction of the reintroduction program and the failure of the federal agency to revamp the outdated recovery plan.


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Great Letters to the Editor! Lobo supporters call out AZ Game and Fish Commissioner in the press (posted 12/20/14)   Leave a comment

From:  Lobos of the Southwest

Dec. 15, 2014

Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is an excellent way to raise awareness about critically endangered Mexican gray wolves and the steps needed to help them thrive. Surveys of newspaper readers show that the letters page is among the most closely read parts of the paper. It’s also the page policy-makers look to as a barometer of public opinion.

AZ Republic, Phoenix
December 15, 2014

Politics trump science at Game and Fish

Chairman Robert Mansell of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission proposed that the wolf on the Kaibab Plateau in Northern Arizona is a result of a “radical environmental conspiracy.” (Letters, Dec. 7)

This confirms my suspicion that the commission does not utilize proper science when making decisions in regards to wildlife management.

The commissioner provides this conspiracy theory without providing the evidence to defend it. Wolves have been known to travel long distances without detection and this wolf, until proven otherwise, is no exception.

The commissioner also confirms what I have known for some time, that this commission is truly politically motivated. They should not use venues, like the largest circulating paper in Arizona, to expound their opinions.

MICHAEL SORUM
Scottsdale, Arizona

Arizona Republic, Phoenix
December 11, 2014

Commissioner’s Letter Disrespectful of Wildlife and Arizonans

Robert Mansell’s letter in Sunday’s Republic (“Wolf appears during controversy: Coincidence?,” Sunday Opinions) was as big a piece of groundless, inflammatory and uninformed claptrap as I’ve seen in quite some time. Mr. Mansell’s round-about allegation that a wild northern gray wolf was somehow “planted” on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona in an effort to divert attention away from impending decisions on wolf management is at best paranoid, and at worst downright disingenuous.

As Chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, it is Mr. Mansell’s sworn duty to “conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations” (per the Department’s mission statement). Yet Mr. Mansell seems to be GAME-ing the system and FISH-ing for excuses not to responsibly manage one particular species of Arizona’s diverse wildlife – namely, the Mexican gray wolf.

Mr. Mansell’s letter was both disrespectful and a disservice to the majority of Arizonans who support the successful reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf.

ED COLEMAN
Tempe

Many thanks and congratulations to these talented and dedicated letter writers-your letters make a big difference in the effort to protect and recover our lobos!

Please take this opportunity to help Mexican wolves by writing your own great letter to the editor!
 Submission information and talking points are here.
Click here to join our email list for Mexican gray wolf updates and action alerts.
Visit us on Facebook here.

Donate to support our work for Mexican gray wolf recovery here.

 

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Wolves knocking on Nevada’s door   Leave a comment

From:  Las Vegas Review-Journal

web1_Grand-Canyon-wolf-10-2014_NPS_FPWC-copy.jpg

 

Beyond the one that prowls the university in Reno, Nevada is not known for its wolf packs.

But a national environmental group believes the Silver State could someday support wolves, assuming the animals survive long enough to make it here.

A new Center for Biological Diversity report identifies almost 360,000 square-miles of potential gray wolf habitat in the West and Northeast, including roughly 6,000 square-miles in scattered patches of Nevada.

The Tucson, Ariz.-based group argues that the current gray wolf population could be doubled to about 10,000 by expanding recovery efforts.

The report, titled “Making Room for Wolf Recovery: The Case for Maintaining Endangered Species Act Protections for America’s Wolves,” comes as the Obama Administration considers removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list, a decision expected by year’s end.

The wolf came under federal protection in 1973. Efforts to reintroduce it to the wild began in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1994 amid controversy and stiff opposition from ranchers and other residents of the rural West.

No one is advocating that wolves should be released into Nevada, which apparently hasn’t had a confirmed wolf sighting since one was killed in Elko County almost a century ago. But the animals could find their way here on their own, and they deserve to be protected if they do, said Amaroq Weiss, the Center for Biological Diversity’s West Coast wolf organizer and one of the authors of the report.

She said that in 56 documented cases over the past 30 years wolves have dispersed from designated recovery areas into other states, often with disastrous results ending with the wandering animals being shot.

“Wolves are desperately trying to make their way to these places that are good for them. It’s a question of whether we have the political will to let that happen,” she said.

ARIZONA’S UNLIKELY ANIMAL

The idea is more than hypothetical. In recent weeks, a “wolf-like animal” has been repeatedly spotted — and photographed — near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, about 250 miles east of Las Vegas.

The U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service has not yet determined whether the animal is a protected gray wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid, but it does appear to be wearing a radio collar that no longer works.

Some experts believe it’s a gray wolf from the Northern Rocky Mountains, and that it made its way to Northern Arizona from Idaho or central Wyoming, the two closest areas where wolves have been caught and collared.

Wildlife officials expect pending DNA tests of the wolf’s scat will tell them what they are dealing with. If it’s a wolf, they hope to capture the animal, examine it and give it a new, brightly colored radio collar before turning it loose.

There have been no confirmed wolf encounters on the Kaibab Plateau, near the canyon’s north rim, since 1939, said Jeff Humphrey, spokesman for the Fish &Wildlife Service in Arizona.

What’s happening now is rare, regardless of whether the animal turns out to be a hybrid living in the wild, a Northern Rocky gray wolf roughly 700 miles from home, or a Mexican gray wolf that found its way across or around the Grand Canyon from a federal recovery area established along the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998.

“Any of these scenarios would seem far-fetched, but that’s what we’ve got on the ground,” Humphrey said.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Nevada has the least amount of wolf habitat of any Western state, with only patchy areas mostly along the Utah and Idaho borders. The state’s largest potential wolf country is in eastern Lincoln County, near Beaver Dam State Park, no more than 200 miles from downtown Las Vegas.

NO COUNTRY FOR LONE WOLVES

Some are skeptical of the center’s findings.

Brian Wakeling is game division chief for the Nevada Department of Wildlife in Reno. He said he doubts Nevada could support more than a handful of wolves — too few to form a genetically viable pack — because there simply aren’t enough deer and elk to hunt. And it’s been that way for a long time.

“Historically there were never a lot of wolves in Nevada,” Wakeling said. “It’s not unreasonable to think that wolves have occurred in Nevada, but they were certainly not abundant.”

State wildlife officials designated the gray wolf as a game species in 2008, but no sanctioned hunt has been held. Wakeling said the change was made to give state officials the regulatory framework to prosecute anyone who might kill a wolf in Nevada.

Wolves remain federally protected through much of the U.S., at least for now. The Center for Biological Diversity insists they should stay that way until they have been restored to far more of their historic range, which once stretched from coast-to-coast covering more than 75 percent of the country. Their survival cannot be left in the hands of individual states that have shown no ability — or inclination — to protect them, the center argues.

“We didn’t lose wolves because we lost habitat. We lost wolves because we killed them,” said the center’s Weiss. “The Obama Administration must finally acknowledge that recovering wolves to sustainable populations is far from done.”

As for the “wolf-like animal” currently prowling north of the Grand Canyon, Humphrey said it appears to be alone, but that doesn’t mean it’s doomed to stay that way. There have been other well-documented cases of wolves wandering hundreds, even thousands of miles from where they were born, yet still finding a mate.

“Wolves have a way of finding other other wolves,” Humphrey said.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

English: Shot at the Minnesota Zoo. A critical...

English: Shot at the Minnesota Zoo. A critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolf is kept captive for breeding purposes. Less than 15 Mexican Wolves are currently estimated to survive in the wild. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

To protect wolves’ future is to protect our future   6 comments

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PUBLISHED: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 12:02 am

My family lives in Mexican gray wolf country along the banks of the upper Gila River in the Cliff-Gila Valley, three miles from the southern edge of the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico. We live simply, on a small milk-goat farm, growing most of our own food and selling, what we can, to our neighbors.

Our orchards and gardens are filled with free-ranging chickens, turkeys and ducks; and our hearts are filled with gratitude both for the lives we lead and the larger complex of life that surrounds and sustains us.

My son, Hawk, is home-schooled and we spend a lot of time outdoors.

When Hawk was 4, we went camping in the Gila wilderness. We got lucky.

Lying in our sleeping bags after dark, we both heard our first wolf.

“What’s that mama?” he asked, a little nervously.

“That’s life,” I thought. “That is life howling at the moon at the cutting edge of time. That, my dear child, is the opposite of nothingness. That is the antithesis of death. That is the deep past and the unknowable future held together by muscle and sinew and desire.”

“It’s a wolf,” I finally said, “and you are very lucky to hear one.”

“But aren’t you afraid,” he asked?

“No,” I said. “I’m not afraid of the wolf, or of mountain lions, or bears, or lightning, or poison ivy. But what I am afraid of is that the wolf that we just heard could be shot. I’m afraid that I will never hear that sound again. I’m afraid that the rivers will be dammed and the soil will be lost and that too many species of birds will disappear forever.

“I’m afraid that my neighbor’s hearts are too small. I’m afraid that most people have forgotten who and what they are. I’m afraid that you will grow up without knowing beauty or wonder.”

Well, OK, maybe I didn’t say all that, but he got the message.

He’s not afraid of wolves. Sweet boy, at 10 years old, he’s not even afraid of the future – at least not yet.

“The great terror of our age,” wrote Loren Eiseley, “is our own conception of ourselves.” Yes, I care about wolves, but I care about my son even more, and I want him to know that the human heart is large, that our species is special because we get to choose who and what we are, that narrow self-interest, hatred and fear doesn’t have to define the human character, that the Endangered Species Act is not only about recovering the Mexican gray wolf, it’s also about recovering ourselves.

I understand that it’s hard sometimes to give the wolf or other listed species a free pass, especially when livelihoods are believed to be at stake.

But for me, the Endangered Species Act remains a sacred trust between my family and my government guaranteeing us that the diversity of life contained within our national boundaries will not be diminished by human agency.

The protections that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could and should and must provide the Mexican gray wolf on its long road to full recovery is the people’s business. It’s my business.

They are working for me, and for Hawk, and for millions of other Americans who not only want a future filled with wolf song, but demand it under the law.

The Endangered Species Act is not the jack boot of big government. The Endangered Species Act is me. The jack boots are mine. I’m one who wants the world to stay alive.

I want Hawk to know beauty and wonder.

I am not afraid of wolves. But I am so very afraid of a future without them.

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