The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to allow up to triple the target number of Mexican wolves in the Southwest from the 1982 recovery plan’s goal of not less than 100 wolves to achieve a self-sustaining population. There will be a major expansion of the area where wolves can be released to include the Secondary Recovery Zone.
The area where Mexican wolves can disperse and establish territories will be expanded and a connectivity corridor for wolves to disperse to the species’ core historical range in Mexico will be established.
The plan devised will recognized “the importance of Mexico as a primary element to successful Mexican wolf recovery.”
Residents in rural Arizona have not been very concerned for the welfare of their livestock and small children due to reports of wolf attacks in other parts of the country.
Officials with Game and Fish recognize that. J.W. Harris, chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission said “The biggest impediment to the Mexican wolf reintroduction effort in the Southwest isn’t biologically-based. It’s social tolerance for an apex predator on today’s modern landscape that must support such a wide variety of conservation, recreation and economic uses.” Harris claimed that a “broad-based group has come together” for Mexican wolf conservation, and the alternative “goes a long ways to enhancing social tolerance and, in turn, successful conservation of the species.”
The Commission claims that the “alternative provides concepts that stakeholders want the Service to evaluate as it prepares the draft EIS that will eventually be opened to broad public review and comment.”
In December 2013, hundreds of Arizonans including ranchers, environmentalists, local citizens and local government organizations attended the Pinetop, Arizona meeting in opposition to the expansion.
In Arizona, the wolf’s primary recovery zone is in northern Arizona’s Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.
Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva has fought for expansion of territory. He has argued that the federal government will need “new areas and wide dispersal over time in order to recover.”
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.”