Amendment No. 342: None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the continued operation of the Mexican Wolf recovery program.
Despite the fact that 69% of New Mexicans support the reintroduction of Mexican wolves after five decades of extinction in the wild, Mexican wolves remain in peril of a second extermination from the Southwest.
At only 50 lobos in the wild, the Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered wolf and mammalian species in North America. However, this hasn%u2019t stopped an onslaught on them and their also-imperiled Northern cousins from both houses of Congress. Two mirror bills (S.249 & H.R.509) are now advancing through the Senate and House with the same intent: to remove Endangered Species Act protections from all gray wolves in the United States.
What will happen if federal protections and funds are removed from wolf management in New Mexico? All new wolf releases will cease and management of lobos will revert to state wildlife authorities, who, unlike federal biologists, are not bound by %u201Cbest available science%u201D requirements. Simply put, this will spell doom for the vital reintroduction of wolves in Southwest.
I am writing to express my concerns and opposition to efforts in the United States Congress to remove and exclude Mexican gray wolves from the endangered species list as well as to proposals to defund the program to recover this critically endangered animal.
The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered wolf in the world with only one population of 50 animals in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. This is not the time to remove protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the act that has given these animals and us, for that matter, a second chance. To remove these protections would doom this animal to a second extinction in the wild.
Mexican gray wolves need federal protection. Their numbers declined for years when the states had a large role in their management and the program is now getting back on track with a new recovery team and the drafting of a new recovery plan. The aggressive removal of wolves in the wild has also diminished.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the states and tribes, is helping ranchers to coexist with wolves by investing in the use of extra range riders, special fencing, fladry (cloth flags hung on fences that wolves avoid), supplemental feed to move cattle away from dens, and other techniques. Efforts are focused on prevention rather than addressing problems after the fact. Without adequate funding (the state and tribal programs also use federal funding), this work with ranchers and communities will end. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona’s wildlife agency, will not be able to fund this work or manage this program on its own.
There is strong support among the public for reintroduction and recovery of Mexican gray wolves. In a 2008 poll (Research and Polling, Inc. in Albuquerque), 69% of New Mexicans and 77% of Arizonans supported the reintroduction of Mexican wolves in their state.
In the Yellowstone region wolf tourism brings in at least $35 million annually to local communities. In Arizona and New Mexico, wolf-centered tourism is beginning as a few outfitters, Fish and Game Department programs and specialty tours take folks out to search for Mexican wolves. One promising new tour developed by the White Mountain Apache tribe combines wolf howling, camera “trapping” for wolves, and cultural activities. Tourism options and revenue will increase as wolf numbers do – bringing a new source of revenue to communities.
Top predators such as wolves are critical to healthy ecosystems. There is significant research that has demonstrated that important role in places such as Yellowstone.
There are many reasons to keep the protections in place afforded by the Endangered Species Act, but the most important is that we have a responsibility to recover these animals for the sake of the land, its wildlife, and future generations. Please reject efforts to remove the life line for this critically endangered animal – say no to legislation to remove them from the endangered species list and to defunding the recovery efforts.
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