After a dangerously close brush with extinction, Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced to New Mexico and Arizona in 1998. But they haven't yet been able to regain their footing in the wild.
Stigmatized by ranchers, trapped and shot by the government, and starved of new genetic material by federal reluctance to release wolves from captivity, the wolves today number just 83, with only five breeding pairs.
Fortunately the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to release more Mexican gray wolves into a bigger area in coming years which will help address the genetic crisis and allow them to roam more freely. But the agency plans to couple those reforms with more loopholes allowing wolves to be killed under more circumstances.
Urge the Service to adopt a modified version of its proposal, which would give the wolves more room but not subject them to increased killing. And tell the agency these wolves must be able to recolonize the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies for recovery to be successful.
I am writing in support of a modified version of Alternative 3 as described in your draft EIS for revising the 1998 Mexican wolf reintroduction rule. Please do allow wolf releases throughout the Gila National Forest and other proposed areas in New Mexico and Arizona, and also allow wolves to roam beyond the current boundaries. As Alternative 3 also describes, do not allow "take" of wolves under the various proposed new circumstances.
I am particularly concerned about state officials' increased authorities under Alternatives 1 and 2 to demand wolf removal or killing ostensibly to protect deer and elk. Scientists have argued that wolf mortality and wolf-removal rates must be dramatically reduced if we hope to actually recover these vulnerable animals. Under Alternatives 1 and 2 several provisions would increase the already-too-high human toll on wolves.
I ask then that you choose Alternative 3 with four critical modifications:
-- Designate Mexican gray wolves as "experimental essential" to bolster their legal and on-the-ground protections;
-- Allow the wolves to roam north of Interstate 40 into the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountain ecosystems to colonize habitats that scientists say, and even your agency admits, they need for recovery;
-- Require ranchers to remove or render inedible (for example, through lime) the carcasses of non-wolf-killed stock before wolves scavenge on them and begin depredating livestock; and
-- Ensure that wolves from the population that is being reintroduced to Mexico, and any pups they may have with U.S. wolves, do not lose the full endangered species protection to which they are entitled.
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