With only 37 Mexican gray wolves known to be eking out a living in Arizona, the animals desperately need protection and help to survive -- and state lawmakers want to make sure they don't get it.
Four anti-wolf measures are working their way through the Arizona legislature now that could have disastrous effects on struggling wolf populations.
The bill seek to expand the current, limited authority for livestock owners to kill wolves -- encouraging violation of federal law -- appropriates $250,000 for legal fees racked up to challenge expansion of the Mexican wolf recovery program, and supports allowing citizens to kill wolves under broader circumstances than presently permitted. One bill even refers to wolves as "varmints" and demands that the federal government creates a new state fund to compensate for their presence.
None of these measures acknowledge wolves' benefits to ecosystems, and they ignore the fact that there's broad support for Mexican gray wolf recovery. Instead they demonize the species just when we should be working to protect these beleaguered animals and allow them a place in the future.
Please take action to contact your representatives to urge them to vote no on all of these measures.
I am writing to oppose S.B. 1211, S.B. 1212, S.C.R. 1006 and H.B. 2699. All of these measures seek to limit the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recover critically endangered Mexican gray wolves. There are only 37 wolves in Arizona. Please vote against these measures.
Mexican gray wolves have long been vilified and persecuted, and now they are near extinction. With only 37 wolves in Arizona, these imperiled animals need muscular federal actions to recover -- including allowing wolves to roam freely without requirements for federal authorities to trap and move these important predators. Wolves also need stronger protection against killings by individual citizens. But these bills seek to loosen protections.
We should be supporting -- not attempting to sabotage -- wolf recovery in Arizona. Wolves benefit their ecosystems: foxes, hares and pronghorn increase in numbers when wolves control their primary predator the coyote, and that even birds and fish populations grow because elk shy away from grazing sensitive streamsides in places where they can't watch for wolves.
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These anti-wolf measures also waste state resources. In an era of global climate crisis and regional drought, elected officials should support bringing back native animals to help heal the natural systems their constituents depend on. Like the return of the wolves to Yellowstone, the return of the Mexican wolf could improve our southwestern waterways and help restore needed balance.