Arizona Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter last week to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell urging her to continue offering Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection to gray wolves, and expand their habitat across the United States. In his letter, Grialva says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should reconsider the proposal it released in June to continue ESA protections only for the Mexican gray wolf.
Just last week, hundreds of Arizonans including ranchers, environmentalists, local citizens and local government organizations attended the Pinetop, Arizona meeting in opposition to the expansion.
In his letter, Grialva writes, “Except for a few pockets of survivors, wolves were essentially eliminated from the western United States in the early 20th century. Millions of dollars have been spent to restore wolves to their native habitats.” However, opponents point out that the habitat is not necessarily native for some of the wolves.
In Arizona, the wolf’s primary recovery zone is in northern Arizona’s Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Many Arizonans are concerned for the welfare of livestock and property rights.
In his letter, Grijalva argues the feds will need multiple populations of wolves will need “new areas and wide dispersal over time in order to recover.”
Government meddling on all levels has sparked outrage across the state. Earlier this month, officers of the Arizona Game and Fish Department informed the public that they had killed two mountain lions after the lions killed two big horn sheep. Thirty-one bighorn sheep were captured in mountains near Yuma, where they were thriving until they were relocated on November 16 and 17 to the Catalina Mountains on November 18.
In short order, the lions found the sheep in the area, which some describe as a sink with few escape routes.
In his article entitled, Release of “Mexican Grey Wolf” example of US Govt forest, game mismanagement, Mark Finchem notes that “organizations like the Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Earth Guardians and other pro-wolf activists have organized and boast that they will essentially make the wild lands of the United States off limits to the very people who live, play and work on them. This is a radical and deadly movement supported for the most part by city dwellers who know nothing of the violent and vicious manner in which wolves take down their prey.”
Those same types of city dwellers were behind the relocation of the big horn sheep, and while it likely made them “feel good” for a moment, they will just as likely face stiff opposition from the public to any more planned meddling.