Local & Regional News
Wolves are people, too: Recovery is really a balancing act
Flagstaff Live! (Original) "Letters to Ducey" column posted May 5, 2016 by Nicole Walker
Dear Governor Ducey,
When I was a kid, I loved the TV show Kids Are People Too. The program advanced the revolutionary idea that kids had brains and ideas for what they wanted, usually in the form of playing an accordion, but still, the kids had direction. Volition! I hated being told what to do. I was a righteous fifth-grader. My best friend, Jeff Whiting—who is now a director on Broadway—and I protested boys and girls being separated for everything: sports, maturation programs, lining up for recess or to sit in rows at assemblies. "This discrimination must end!" we claimed although I don't think we used the word "discrimination" and I don't think the justice we were looking for was entirely selfless. Jeff and I wanted to sit by each other. Still, we felt the injustice deeply. We wanted things to be less categorical, less divided.
I-40 is a dividing line for the Mexican Gray Wolf. None are allowed to cross it. If they do, they will be removed and taken back to "their" area in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation in the White Mountains. This wolf, one of just 97 Mexican Gray Wolves, is having a hard time reestablishing his species. The pickings for females are low. He's related to most of them. Confined to this smallish space means his chances for ever being anything but a representative of a dwindling species whose genetic variation is so small that, eventually, the species will die out.
I know you hate being told what to do. I get it. So do I. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been court ordered to develop a recovery plan. You sent a letter saying you would not allow wolves to cross I-40. But the problem is that it's not really up to you. While some people still fear and hate wolves, many others see them as amazing creatures, able to withstand near eradication, form social bonds and use elegant forms of communication to maintain those bonds. The people who love wolves aren't in charge, either. It's not a boy/girl, pro-wolf/anti-wolf kind of situation. It's a situation where the will of one side can be balanced with the will of another side. Ranchers can be compensated for lost livestock. Farmers can be taught how to keep wolves off their property. Some wolves may be removed or killed. But that's the point of government: to address the needs of the many individuals and try to find a way to understand how wolves are part of the wilderness and part of what we mean by "the West."
The principal told Jeff and me that we would have to abide by the boy and girl divisions, but he didn't dismiss our concerns. He explained that it's just an easy way to organize the class and get students to quiet down. Our gender didn't really matter in the line. In fact, he whispered, if you plan ahead, you can line up so you're right next to each other. We weren't thrilled. We'd still sometimes be divided by what was to us as arbitrary a distinction as a freeway running through Coconino County, but we took his advice and managed to line up near each other and, when we got to recess, played four-square with an uneven number of girls and boys.
The wolf, after centuries of being reviled, now enjoys a sliver of hope that his point of view will be addressed. A metaphor for the loner, the alpha, the killer has morphed into a metaphor for the family man, the communicator, the wild order itself. The idea that wilderness can live beside civilization, can in fact make us be more civil, is a revolutionary idea that isn't really that revolutionary. People and wolves have lived together for a very long time. Supposedly, humans are smart. They should be able to stand in two lines peacefully next to each other.
But, my fear is, like the way you have defied the order by the court to pay the schools the amount of money they are owed, you will defy the order, if it comes, to allow the wolf on this side of I-40. My fear, like the way you want state trust land to give the schools money that is already owned by the schools in place of money you already owe them, is that you will sell the land upon which the wolf is meant to recover and kill two wolves with one stone. No land. No wolves. No justice.
Nicole Walker is an associate professor at Northern Arizona University, and is the author of Quench Your Thirst with Salt and a collection of poems, This Noisy Egg. She edited, with Margot Singer, Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment from the Arts. The thoughts expressed here are hers alone and not necessarily those of her employer. This letter is from May 2, 2016.
Coconino Voices: No more delays in northern wolf releases
Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Op-Ed Posted March 19, 2016 by Toni Prothero and Emily Renn
We at the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, a non-profit located here in Flagstaff, read with interest the editorial of Feb. 26, 2016 published in these pages and entitled "Top predator release requires more public education." Our mission since we were established in 2004 has been to restore wolves to the Grand Canyon region by building public support for recovery through education and outreach. We would argue that there is significant public support already in the region, in part due to the efforts of our organization and others, and that that support is based on knowledge of the benefits wolves bring to ecosystems.
A survey conducted in 2008 by Research and Polling Inc. found that 76 percent of respondents in Arizona agreed with the statement "Wolves are of benefit to the West and help the balance of nature." While it is true that many of us wolf-supporters are passionate about restoring wolves to the region, it is a passion that comes from listening to what science can tell us about the vital importance of top predators to healthy, balanced landscapes.
Each year since 2005 the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project has done extensive outreach in the region through school and public presentations and tabling at local events in Flagstaff and at the Grand Canyon. Last year alone we reached approximately 20,000 people through our education and outreach programs. We have an informed public, ready and willing to have wild wolves back in our region. The wolf hearing that the US Fish and Wildlife Service recently held in Pinetop was well attended and those speaking were overwhelmingly in support of pending wolf releases, as they have been at every opportunity to address our federal and state officials. In addition, a poll conducted in 2013 of Arizona voters by Tulchin Research found that more than 7 in 10, 72 percent, supported restoring wolves to suitable habitat in northern Arizona.
We agree with the authors that public officials need to tone down the rhetoric, and, we would add, stick to the science. We take exception, however, to the authors' "go slow" approach. The public accepts wolves and wants to see them recover. In addition, it has been 18 years since the Mexican wolf was reintroduced to Arizona and the population has struggled to gain a secure future. The first-step target of 100 wolves restored to the wild in Arizona and New Mexico set in 1982 was finally met just last year, 33 years later, only to fall below that number this year. Because of delays in new releases, the population of wild Mexican wolves is now unacceptably inbred according to experts. All Mexican wolves alive today are the descendants of just seven Mexican wolves that remained to start the captive breeding program. These factors contribute to the species becoming increasingly highly endangered. It is foolhardy to continue to delay releases and risk extinction, so narrowly avoided before.
Now is the time for more releases.
Toni Prothero is the Education and Outreach Coordinator and Emily Renn is the Executive Director of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project
Wolves are playing catchup
Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted February 28, 2016 by Gaylene Soper
To the editor:
A few comments regarding 'Will wolves be closer to Flagstaff' article if I may.
To Mr. Bray of the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association, I would like to say "No" we do NOT need to start from square one. This effort has been proven and supported over and over, you just do not like the answer. And I am curious as to why federal officials have not been searching and vetting new locations from the day the New Rule went into effect. While I do appreciate that, after 30 years, this is a step forward it seems that the dragging of feet is why we are 30 years behind in saving this endangered species.
Mr. Whiting, of Navajo County, must have missed the meetings in Pinetop where 200 people, not "a few locals," spoke in favor of wolf releases. And then there are the ongoing campaigns of letter writing, volunteering, petitions signed by hundreds in Flagstaff alone. Defenders of Wildlife has a very successful program using Range Riders and working side by side with local ranchers, a win win for wolves and ranchers -- why do we not hear about that?
Thank you for this very detailed article but we need to get busy, we do NOT have 20 more years.
GAYLENE D. SOPER
Top predator release requires more public education
Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Editorial Posted Februrary 26, 2016
There are animals that stir up strong emotions among nature lovers everywhere.
And then there are wolves, which push those passions off the charts. To some, they are the scourge of the settled West and the bane of sportsmen. To others, they are the pinnacle predator that will return balance to a disrupted food chain. There seems to be no middle ground.
At the risk of getting squeezed from both sides, we'll try below to occupy that ground.
The immediate reason to engage the issue is a preliminary map showing new Mexican gray wolf release sites in Navajo County just east of the Coconino County line above the Mogollon Rim. But wolf reintroduction has been a hot-button issue in Arizona for nearly a decade, so there aren't too many new points to make.
Our position has been and remains to take a go-slow approach to reintroduction that balances sustainable pack numbers with minimal levels of cattle predation. Short of killing wolves that prey on cattle, project managers should do everything possible to protect livestock, including relocation, stun guns and other aversion tactics. Ranchers who lose cattle to wolves should be remimbursed with as little red tape as possible.
On the other hand, state officials who oppose the federal project need to lower the volume on the fear-mongering. It's bad enough that wolves stir up outsized passions among the unschooled; those in leadership positions have a duty to ground the discussion in reality.
Wolf releases prepare to expand
Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted February 21, 2016 by Emery Cowan
Earlier this month, ranchers, federal forest and wildlife officials and local government representatives crowded into a Forest Service conference room in Heber. They were there to discuss a topic many locals have long opposed: the expansion of Mexican gray wolf releases into a much larger area of Arizona and New Mexico.
The meeting was an effort to get feedback from the ranchers, who have grazing leases on the land, about sites the Service is considering for future wolf releases in the Tonto and Apache Sitgreaves national forests.
The preliminary maps they were looking at, which are still under consideration, show that of nine proposed locations across the Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests, six are near the southeastern corner of Coconino County. The proposed spots appear to be just west of the Navajo-Coconino County line, approximately five to 10 miles east of State Highway 87.
While necessary for the threatened animals' survival, the expanded releases bring the wolves closer to ranches, roads and communities that so far have only viewed the issue from far away.
- Valdez: Wolves are down, GOP wants 'em out
- After rising to a record 110, count of Mexican wolves has dropped to 97 in Southwest
- Mexican gray wolf counts suspended after two darted animals die
- To understand wolves, use science
- Poaching slows Mexican wolf population recovery
- Wolf science
- Anatomy of a wolf count
- Wildlife Officials Report Four Mexican Gray Wolf Deaths in December
- A contentious backdrop
- Science, majority of Utahns support return of the Lobo
- Should Utah welcome the endangered Mexican wolf?
- Gov. Doug Ducey's hard line sets up battle over expanding Mexican wolf territory
- Column: Montini: Siding with real wolves over political ones
- Op-ed: Utah Wildlife Board’s anti-wolf rhetoric is a century behind
- Editorial: If Utah can help Mexican wolves recover, we should let them in
- Does imperiled Mexican gray wolf belong in Utah? No way, 4 states say
- Wolf reintroduction: Point/Counterpoint
- Game commissions unqualified on wolves
- New Mexico wildlife panel denies federal wolf permit appeal
- Op-ed: Hunter’s story of wolf killing is highly dubious
- Commission follows politics, not science
- Theology, biology agree on wolves
- Mexican wolves still threatened by Gosar bill
- Wolves far from in recovery
- Press Release: Mexican Gray Wolf Supporters Rally at Arizona Game and Fish Meeting
- Wolves backed by science, public
- Utah hunter who killed gray wolf won't be charged
- No charges against Utah cougar hunter who killed Echo the wandering wolf: “I had a shot and took it.”
- Removing wolf protection will be lethal
- Gosar bill is wolf in sheep’s clothing
- More killed by cows than wolves
- Managing wolves means better data
- Why not simply release more wolves?
- Cross-fostering pups a partial solution
- Wolf adoption becomes part of species recovery plan
- Release more wolves from captivity
- Missouri site helping effort to repopulate US wolves
- Press Release: A Celebration of Our Environment!
- Opinion: The wolf’s journey ends in Utah
- Lessons From the Brief, Lonesome Life of Echo the Wolf
- Press Release: Endangered Mexican gray wolf population reaches 109
- Wolf killed in Utah was animal from rare Arizona sighting
- Press Release: Confirmed - Echo, the First Wolf in Over 70 years at Grand Canyon, Is Dead
- What's a wolf to do? Go vegan, apparently
- Wolves get more area to roam in Ariz., N.M.
- OPINION: Who has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf?
- Hoooowl no! Canyon wolf may have been killed
- Press Release: Grand Canyon Wolf Named “Echo” in World-wide Contest
- Rules allowing wolf kills loosened
- Study: Wolf kills might not work
- Press Release: Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Rule Would Hinder Species Recovery
- Gray Wolf Near Grand Canyon’s North Rim Endured Long, Harrowing Journey
- Press Release: DNA Tests Confirm First Wolf in Over 70 years is Living near Grand Canyon’s North Rim
- Wolves, livestock have coexisted elsewhere
- Gray wolves return to Grand Canyon?
- Gray Wolf Spotted in Grand Canyon for First Time in Decades?
- Wolf-like animal seen roaming in northern Arizona
- Like fox guarding the henhouse
- Wolves, antelope can co-exist
- Putting wolves on North Kaibab now might work better
- Wolf Expansion Long Overdue
- Feds: No wolves to roam in Grand Canyon
- Federal Plan Would Expand Wolf Territory in Arizona, New Mexico
- Let wild wolves roam in wilderness
- Editorial: Game and Fish Should Wait For Full Wolf EIS
- State: No Mexican gray wolves for Flagstaff area
- Guest Column: Game and Fish plan makes it easier to kill wolves
- Guest Opinion: Game and Fish can't be trusted with wolf program
- Wild Battle Rages Over Wolves, Wilderness And Politics Of Extinction
- Brewer vetoes bill letting ranchers kill endangered wolves on federal lands
- Wolves make the elk herd strong
- State Legislature Attempts to Limit Federal Wolf Reintroduction
- Alpha wolf pack sighted in Flagstaff
- Wolf Wanderers blog post
- Letter to the Editor: Thorpe's wolf story too one-sided
- Anti-wolf bills clear case of over-reaction
- House should listen to public on wolf issue
- Bob Thorpe trims wolf proposal
- Legislators work to cap gray wolves in Arizona
- Denying federal authority costly, inconsistent
- Wolves are in the crosshairs, thanks to Sen. Gail Griffin
- Thorpe takes up cause of Arizona ranchers losing cattle to wolves
- Wolf plan reignites passions
- National Wolf Awareness Week Event to Affect the Future of Wolves in AZ
- Mexican gray wolf: Where the wild things aren’t
- New study forecasts genetic risks to wolves in western US unless dispersal can connect isolated populations
- Letter to the Editor: Writer's wolf argument holds water
- Coconino Voices: Wolves deserve wider range
- Letter to the Editor: Let wolves roam more widely
- Editorial: Wolf expansion plan needs more details
- Wolves to roam toward Flagstaff?
- Arizona Endangered Wolves Still On The Brink
- Press Release: Scientists Call on Obama Administration to Keep Gray Wolves Protected Under Endangered Species Act
- Sedona Lecture Series focuses on Mexican Gray Wolf – April 8
- Howling-Good Films: Wild and Scenic Film Festival Visits Flagstaff and Benefits Local Wolf Recovery Project
- 15 Years of Mexican Gray Wolves: Celebrate or Sob?
- Arizona commission backs request to remove wolves from endangered list
- Wolves in Utah
- Attempt to strip dollars for anti-wolf lobbyist fails
- Why keep wolves out?