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Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project

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Commission follows politics, not science

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Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted August 19, 2015 by Toni Prothero

To the editor:

Thank you for the recent article by Dave Parsons regarding the recovery of the Mexican wolf in Arizona. Mr. Parsons is a scientist with direct experience of the efforts to recover this species and well-qualified to critique the decisions of policymakers like Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Representative Gosar.

I attended the recent meeting of the Commission in Flagstaff and was appalled at their decision to oppose any more releases of adult wolves from captive breeding facilities and to rely solely on cross-fostering of captive-born pups. This is a very difficult technique to accomplish and, in fact, failed this year.

I have no doubt that many excellent people work for Arizona Game and Fish and work hard for the Mexican wolf's recovery, but the Commission is another matter. They are political appointees and their decisions are based on politics and not on peer-reviewed science, which is quite clear as to what is needed to save the species: access to suitable habitat north of I-40, an end to killings and removals, at least two more populations with the ability to intermingle among the populations, and expedited releases of adults from captivity for the genetic rescue of the species.

None of these points is evident in the Commission's plans -- quite the opposite, in fact. The current population of Mexican wolves is very small and vulnerable. We cannot afford to let them slip away into extinction as almost occurred before. The Commission would better serve the people of Arizona by following the science.



Theology, biology agree on wolves

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Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted August 15, 2015 by Sarah King

To the editor:

I read with interest the guest columns presenting opposing views on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission's deliberations (and recent decision) on the future of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program. Both writers presented scientific facts -- and in one case, misstatements of fact -- to back up their conclusions. I'd like to add a different voice to the debate -- the theological one.

Mexican wolves still threatened by Gosar bill

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Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Special Posted on August 13, 2015 by David Parsons

In his August 6 op-ed, David Wolf presents the "facts" about Mexican wolf recovery. Alas, one person's facts are often another's fiction. I don't know Mr. Wolf's credentials. I have a Master of Science degree in wildlife biology and served as Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1990-1999. I have followed the recovery program ever since, and am a member of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team.

Mr. Wolf claims wild Mexican wolves' "survival and reproductive potential has increased many fold over the pen-raised wolves the program started with in 1998." This claim has not been proven, but we do know that the wild population is highly inbred and that without new releases of captive wolves, each new wild generation becomes increasingly inbred. Currently, wild Mexican wolves are on average as related as brothers and sisters. Important genetically diverse Mexican wolves are available in captivity, but new releases have been restricted for many years by the Arizona Game Commission, which at its last meeting prohibited the additional releases of captive adult wolves and allowed only six captive-born pups to be released annually by placing them with wild litters in their dens—a tricky experimental technique called "cross fostering." So far, there has been one placement of two pups in a den and one surviving pup has been confirmed. There is no scientific foundation for the Commission's edict.

Mr. Wolf is correct that the "core" of historical Mexican wolf habitat is in Mexico. However, habitats with the highest potential for recovering Mexican wolves are in the United States. Scientists (some from Mexico) appointed by the Fish and Wildlife Service to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team concluded that additional habitats in northern Arizona / southern Utah and northern New Mexico / southern Colorado are essential to recovery and long-term survival of Mexican wolves.

Mr. Wolf asserts that Arizona Game and Fish Department "is more than capable of and will see the program to a successful conclusion." The department assumed authority over management decisions for the wild population from 2003 to 2009. The wild population exactly matched projections at 55 wolves in 2003. Six years later, it declined to 42 wolves, which led to a federal court settlement that returned management authority to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Two years later, the population was back to the 2003 level. Eight years of the 17-year reintroduction effort were wasted and important genetic diversity squandered under state control.

If Representative Gosar succeeds in taking Mexican wolves off of the Federal endangered species list, their extinction would be likely.

David Parsons is a retired wildlife biologist who lives in New Mexico.

Wolves far from in recovery

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Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted on August 7, 2015 by Roxane George

To the editor:

How ironic that David Wolf's August 6th column claiming to present "the facts" on the status of Mexican gray wolves is itself rife with fallacies. The most glaring of these is Wolf's claim that with only 109 Mexican gray wolves in a single population in the wild, and another 250 in captivity, they are no longer close to extinction. They are, in fact, one of the world's most endangered wolves, and they desperately need the federal protections Gosar's bill would remove.

Like Arizona Game and Fish, Wolf implies that we need not recover our native wolves in the Southwest because a significant portion of the lobo's historic habitat was in Mexico. This is indicative of a mindset that still sees wolves as a problem to be rid of, rather than important, intelligent animals that can help make our wildlands whole, and our deer and elk herds healthy. Thousands of these wolves roamed the Southwest prior to European settlement. They belong here.

While Arizona Game and Fish biologists contribute greatly to Mexican wolf reintroduction, the politically appointed Commission has repeatedly acted to subvert wolf recovery. Just one day after Wolf's column was published, the Commission voted to keep genetically valuable adult wolves in captivity while the wild population becomes increasingly genetically impoverished.

Our lobos need genetic rescue, two new populations north of I-40, and a science-based recovery plan. They don't need barriers to recovery erected by Arizona's Game and Fish Commission or misleading newspaper columns about their plight.



Press Release: Mexican Gray Wolf Supporters Rally at Arizona Game and Fish Meeting

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Arizonans Protest Commission's Interference with Wolf Recovery.

For Immediate Release: August 7, 2015

Contacts for members of the media:
Emily Renn, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Al White, former Flagstaff Vice-Mayor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sarah King, Earth Care Commission-AZ SAFE Network, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Roxane George, Mexicanwolves.org, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mexican Gray Wolf Supporters Rally at Arizona Game and Fish Meeting

Arizonans Protest Commission's Interference with Wolf Recovery

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Wildlife supporters from across the state, including scientists and activists from the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, Sierra Club, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, rallied Friday at the Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting at Little America to protest the commissioners' actions to undermine the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction and recovery, and to express their support for the highly endangered wolves.

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project executive director Emily Renn told the large crowd of wolf supporters, "With only 110 in the wild, Mexican gray wolves are one of the most endangered wolves in the world. They are beautiful, intelligent animals that, given a chance, can help restore the health of our wild lands and keep elk and deer populations in balance. But we need an Arizona Game and Fish Commission that doesn't just pay lip service to wolf recovery while its actions endanger the wolves' survival."

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