Wolf Advocates Speak Out at Hearing in Pinetop
On December 3rd, ADLA representatives traveled to Pinetop for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) public hearing on its Mexican gray wolf proposals, along with many other wolf supporters. The meeting was held in the wolf recovery area, and it was expected that wolf opponents would pack the conference center. However, many wolf advocates turned out in large numbers, and held a strong presence throughout the hearing.
An agency representative estimated that 400 people attended the hearing, which opened with comments from elected officials. An Elder spokesperson for Havasupai Tribe expressed support for protection of wolves. But the remaining officials, including state legislators Gail Griffin and Judy Burges, supported delisting the gray wolf and opposed the Mexican wolf recovery. Globe Mayor Terry Wheeler stated, “The sad truth is that the wolves are already here,” But if they’re released in Gila County as proposed, wolves will soon be in Scottsdale “munching down on pink Pomeranians...”
Fortunately, many advocates of Mexican wolf recovery had the opportunity to speak, including ADLA volunteers who expressed concern that all but one of the USFWS proposals could doom the 75 Mexican wolves that remain in the wild. Advocates also commented that the proposed rule to recapture Mexican wolves that stray outside of the Experimental Population Area is counterproductive to their recovery, and ignores biologists who have determined that the current recovery area doesn’t provide enough suitable land, which will makes it virtually impossible to establish a self-sustaining population.
On a personal note, I am so terrified of public speaking that I changed my major in college primarily to avoid speech classes. I try to avoid public speaking whenever possible, but my commitment to wildlife advocacy outweighed my fear, and I reluctantly prepared comments – hoping I could somehow get out of reading them. Because there were hundreds of attendants with a two hour time limit, USFWS staff decided to randomly select speakers. I breathed a sigh of relief; figuring I had a good chance of not having to speak. That relief, however, was short-lived when the first name called was mine. Despite my fear, I felt empowered by the fact that I was speaking out for the wolves – animals so maligned that they had almost been wiped off the planet, and still face an uncertain future. I mentioned my husband and I are multi-generation New Mexicans and current Arizona residents, and the deep connection we feel to the lobo. As it turned out, I was the only speaker that had that two-state connection.
Fortunately, Stephanie Nichols-Young defied the odds and was also chosen to speak, and presented excellent comments on behalf of ADLA. It was energizing to see so many wolf advocates from so many organizations, including our colleagues from Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project and others who drove in from all over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The youngest wolf advocate from Surprise spoke for wolves, and helped make wolf masks to take back to her classmates.
Photo credit: Nate Renn
Last Chance to Speak Up for Mexican Wolves!
USFW decisions on the proposed rule can help Mexican wolves finally thrive or can push them closer to extinction. Your comments are needed to show supportfor the lobo.The deadline to submit comments is December 17, 2013.
Fifteen years after they were reintroduced, only 75 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild, and they have undergone dangerous genetic deterioration due to government and private shooting and trapping, along with a freeze on wolf releases to the wild.
USFWS now proposes changes to Mexican wolf management —two good changes and many more that threaten the lobos’ survival and recovery. Well-funded wolf opponents are pressing USFWS. We can’t outspend them, we need an army of Arizona animal advocates to step-up!
You and other supporters of the Mexican wolf are all that will stand between extinction and survival for these critically endangered, beautiful and intelligent animals.
Please comment today, and ask others to do the same. Click here for more information and to submit comments online.