Arizona’s ranchers are questioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft revision to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan released today. The revision ignores the multiple recent reports of wolf sightings in small communities.
Rural residents have expressed growing concerns by the wolves’ lack of fear of humans. The hybrid-wolf population has had a devastating impact on the ranching industry as well.
A northern Arizona man, Scott Shellenberger, captured on video what too many ranchers have experienced; wolf attacks on cattle. Shellenberger, an Eager resident, took the footage near Big Lake on the Fort Apache Indian reservation. According to Shellenberger, “This wolf was definitely not shy of humans. We watched him on 2 different occasions for over 1 hour.”
“Most people have no idea what ranchers deal with regards to wolves,” Shellenberger told the ADI. “I personally believe they are a problem and should have never been reintroduced. These not pure bred. I think people need to know the wolves are a problem for ranchers. They are a problem to the elk and deer populations. They cost the tax payers money with no real return.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan guides the “Mexican wolf recovery efforts by the bureau and its partners, with the ultimate goal of removing this wolf subspecies from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections and returning management to the appropriate states and tribes.”
Apache County Supervisor Doyel Shamley stated that “the irony of the newly proposed action is the number of years the agency ran the program, largely unchecked. It is of critical import the Service is made to follow the same law as citizens.”
After years of ignoring ranchers and residents’ concerns, the Service is now seeking public input and peer review on the draft revised plan through a public comment period and series of public meetings. The comment period will remain open through August 29, 2017.
According to the Service:
● The recovery strategy outlined in the plan is to establish two Mexican wolf populations distributed in core areas within the subspecies’ historical range in the United States and Mexico. This strategy addresses the threats to the species, including the extinction risk associated with small population size and the loss of genetic diversity. The draft plan provides estimates of the time and resources required to carry out this strategy and the associated measures needed to achieve the plan’s goal.”
● At the time of recovery, the Service expects Mexican wolf populations to be stable or increasing in abundance, well-distributed geographically within their historical range, and genetically diverse.
●In the United States, the recovery strategy will focus on the area south of I-40 in Arizona and New Mexico in the area designated as the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area. In Mexico, federal agencies are focusing on the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in Sonora, Durango, and Chihuahua.
The current Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan dates back to 1982. In April 2016, the Service signed a Settlement Agreement with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Defenders of Wildlife to complete a final revised Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan by the end of November 2017. The Service will not be extending the comment period beyond the designated time due to the the agreed-upon completion date in the agreement.
To review and comment on the draft revised recovery plan and related documents, visit www.regulations.gov and enter the docket number FWS–R2–ES–2017–0036 in the search bar.
Click the “Comment Now” button to submit your comments.
Alternatively you may request documents by mail by writing to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113; or by calling: (505) 346–2525. Comments may be mailed or hand delivered to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R4–ES–2017–0036, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
The Service will also hold four public meetings to provide an opportunity for citizens to learn about the revised Mexican wolf recovery plan and to provide written comments (oral comments will not be recorded).
The dates and times of these information meetings are as follows:
1. July 18, 2017 (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.): Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University, Prochnow
Auditorium, South Knowles Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.
2. July 19, 2017 (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.): Pinetop: Hon-Dah Resort, Casino Banquet Hall,
777 AZ–260, Pinetop, AZ 85935.
3. July 20, 2017 (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.): Truth or Consequences: Ralph Edwards
Auditorium, Civic Center, 400 West Fourth, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901.
4. July 22, 2017 (2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.): Albuquerque: Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, 1901
University Boulevard NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102.