Environazi's are at it again. Please comment on FWS Plan to Manage Mexican Wolves

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From Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation-

In 1976 with only seven individuals remaining, Canis lupus baileyi, the Mexican (MX) wolf, was classified as an endangered species. A captive breeding program was commenced to save the species. This sub-species of wolf is native to parts of Arizona and New Mexico, which made up 10% of its historic range. The other 90% of that former range is in Old Mexico.
https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/

A milestone of sorts, and the beginning of an effort to save a species that would, and is costing millions of taxpayer dollars. Here are some maps from the Lobos of the Southwest.
https://mexicanwolves.org/index.php/wolf-country

In 1998 the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) established a "nonessential experimental population" of wolves in the Blue Range of eastern AZ under the 10j Rule. That label is extremely important from a management standpoint, for without it, flexibility is lost.
https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/10(j).pdf

Many cheered; a lot of environmental organizations and urbanites.
And many swore: a lot of ranchers, livestock growers, farmers, and rural folks.
You could find sportsmen and women in both camps to varying degrees.

The AZ Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) manages all wildlife within our state's boundaries, including threatened and endangered species. In the last 20 years, in concert with the FWS, the MX wolf has made a comeback because of their efforts. The most recent census of the wild population showed at least 163 wolves in AZ and NM. Here is some more information from AZGFD on MX wolf management and reintroduction.
https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/speciesofgreatestconservneed/mexicanwolves/

In the meantime, there are captive breeding populations spread around the United States (approximately 30 facilities) and in Mexico (at least 10 facilities). The captive wolf population is now up to approximately 400 animals.

There are two options for releases to enhance genetic diversity in the population; adult wolves raised in captivity (naïve to fending for themselves on the landscape), or cross-fostered pups (replacing wild born pups with captive born pups in the den). Since 2014, 52 captive pups have been fostered into wild dens. At least 10 of those fostered pups survived their first year, and three have produced litters of their own. Cross-fostering pups have incrementally expanded the gene pool, while keeping captive raised (naïve) adult wolves off the landscape, along with eliminating the need for them to learn how to be wild and stay away from people.

In 2015, the FWS published a final rule governing the animal's designation and management.
  1. The 10j Rule remained in place allowing some flexibility in the restrictions that otherwise would be in place absent the designation.
  2. A population goal of 300 to 325 wolves was set within the defined Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) of eastern AZ and western NM.
  3. The area with which wolves could be introduced was expanded, and also extended to the southern AZ border with Mexico.
  4. The final rule also permitted killing or "take" of wolves under certain circumstances to protect livestock and non-feral dogs.
In 2017 the FWS completed their Recovery Plan and have been working with cooperative partners at the AZGFD, NM Game & Fish Department and the White Mountain Apache Nation. Notwithstanding the complexities of managing this apex predator, the population has consistently risen each year.

-AZSFWC supported the Recovery Plan and the 10(j) Rule as the only means to manage and control the animal in a sensible and measured manner, tracking with the position of the AZGFD.
-Wolf opponents remained steadfast wanting "no wolves".
-Wolf advocates were and are, just as determined to expand the "recovery" unhindered across "suitable" (any place with food, water and shelter) habitat (not historical habitat) in the Southwest U.S.


In 2018 two lawsuits were filed against the FWS, one for the Recovery Plan, which has not been ruled on yet, and the other over the 2015 10(j) Rule which is the matter at hand. A Federal judge said the 2015 10(j) Rule "failed to further the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf." The FWS has until May of 2021 to respond to the judge's ruling.
https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/court-throws-lifeline-endangered-mexican-gray-wolf
On April 15, 2020, in order to comply with the Judge's order, the FWS opened public comment on the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement supplement in conjunction with a proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi).

So what is at stake? (three key issues)
  1. Status of the population: "essential" vs "experimental non-essential".
    A. Essential; Fully protected by Endangered Species Act (ESA) with limited flexibility for any management. Removal of any wolves, for any reason, would be extremely difficult.
    B. Experimental non-essential; While still protected by the ESA, management flexibility remains in place. Removal of wolves is allowed for legitimate reasons; ie, livestock depredation. Ability to replace wild wolves with captives if the population would crash as an example.
  2. Population objectives and release strategies; numbers, historic vs suitable habitat, release of captive wolves vs cross-fostered pups.
  3. Removal of individual wolves due to genetic consequences. If this option is eliminated, the ability to take wolves for legitimate causes and with due consideration from the FWS and cooperators is gone, and there will be greater strife between landowners and wolf recovery.
Wolf advocates essentially want the following:
  1. No limits on the number of the wolves. (currently a cap of 325 wolves in AZ and NM)
  2. Transplants of captive wolf pairs throughout suitable range. (naïve wolves under the guise of enhanced genetic diversity)
  3. No limits on the territory they can occupy; ie, north of Interstate 40 and north of the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab Plateau and Arizona Strip.
  4. Connectivity with Mexico to the south and connectivity to Canis lupus occidentalis migration (Gray wolves) from the north.
  5. Reformation of livestock predation guidelines (stop killing of problem wolves) and more enforcement of accidental trapping and killing of wolves.
https://mexicanwolves.org/index.php/recovery-solutions
https://gcwolfrecovery.org/ https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/Mexican_gray_wolf/index.html
https://wildearthguardians.org/wildlife-conservation/defend-native-carnivores/mexican-wolf/
https://act.defenders.org/page/19127/action/1?supporter_appealCode=3WDW2008CHXXX&en_og_source=FY20_Web_Action
https://mexicanwolves.org/index.php/news/2058/51/TAKE-ACTION-US-Fish-Wildlife-Begins-60-Day-Public-Comment-Period-on-Mexican-Wolves

The comment period is open until June 15, 2020
You can provide your input here:
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007-0001

Jim Unmacht
Executive Director
 
OP
J
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Sign up for the mexican wolf recovery program bulletins put out by the FWS. They track the status of every wolf in the program and almost every week they have incidences of stock depredation by wolves. Wolves are apex predators that kill whatever they decide to, including stock, domestic animals and as many prey animals as they can. I lived with them for 10 years in Alaska and have seen literally dozens of caribou taken by a pack of wolves at one time with nothing eaten. This request for comments is to support -FWS scientifically managing the wolves, not some half-a$$ed envirowhacko version of a disney movie. The current recovery plan also calls for the population to continue under the ESA until there are at least 200 wolves on their original range in MEXICO. That is as likely to happen as the possibility of drugs no longer flowing across the border. Mexicans live close to the earth and do not tolerate predators around their livestock, period. Kind of like that jaguar that caused such a ruckus here in Southern Arizona that is now on some rancher's wall in Mexico.
 
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Old18C

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Sign up for the mexican wolf recovery program bulletins put out by the FWS. They track the status of every wolf in the program and almost every week they have incidences of stock depredation by wolves. Wolves are apex predators that kill whatever they decide to, including stock, domestic animals and as many prey animals as they can. I lived with them for 10 years in Alaska and have seen literally dozens of caribou taken by a pack of wolves at one time with nothing eaten. This request for comments is to support -FWS scientifically managing the wolves, not some half-a$$ed envirowhacko version of a disney movie. The current recovery plan also calls for the population to continue under the ESA until there are at least 200 wolves on their original range in MEXICO. That is as likely to happen as the possibility of drugs no longer flowing across the border. Mexicans live close to the earth and do not tolerate predators around their livestock, period. Kind of like that jaguar that caused such a ruckus here in Southern Arizona that is now on some rancher's wall in Mexico.
I agree and have seen canines, (not just wolves) kill like STUPID people
 
OP
J
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A couple of things to keep in mind about this wolf introduction-
(Please feel free to use this in your comments)

1. The elk and deer populations in AZ have roughly 25 generations where the only predators they had to worry about were men, mountain lions and coyotes. As the re-introduced wolf populations grow, they will have a dramatic effect on the prey populations. Until the elk and deer re-learn how to live with another apex predator, their populations will be driven through the floor, just like the populations in the Yellowstone area were. Those population only began to recover over the past few years. In Arizona, it will take a several generations before the prey animals adjust to another apex predator.

2. The cervid population in Arizona is nowhere near what it is in other states that have had wolves re-introduced. For example, the elk hunting season harvest in Colorado every year is more than the entire population of elk in Arizona. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming had elk populations probably 25 times greater than what we have in AZ. Before the wolf re-introduction, elk tags were plentiful and easy to get, not so much over the past decade. If the expanding wolf population in AZ is as successful at taking cervids as those in the Yellowstone basin, you can pretty much guarantee we won't see an elk season here for at least 2 decades. Deer seasons, especially for mule deer, will probably be significantly restricted, if not eliminated.

3. Since AZGFD won't be able to manage the wolf population if those populations are changed to "essential" under the ESA, the only option AZGFD will have is to manage the hunter population and decrease the human impact on the cervid population. Wolves, as wild apex predators, don't care about population management and will take every animal available. (We've already seen this to a certain extent with coyotes in Arizona. In some areas, the fawn recruitment for antelope is almost zero. Where the coyotes were previously controlled with leg-hold traps, the populations exploded after the trapping ban. That dramatically impacted the game populations in several areas.)

4. The current management plan for the Mexican gray wolf is working well. A slow introduction will allow the prey populations to adjust to another predator and will not result in a population crash. Nature is not a Disney movie where everything is all sunshine and posies. It's a brutal, tooth and nail fight for survival. We have a responsibility to ensure that returning an apex predator to it's home range is done in a careful, scientific way that considers the impact on all stakeholders, including the sportsmen and women of Arizona and New Mexico.

5. The economic impact of closed hunting seasons for elk and deer in both states will be in the billions of dollars. And yes, those closures will be necessary if the designation Mexican wolf under the ESA is changed to "Essential," removing the ability for the FWS and Game and Fish Departments of both Arizona and New Mexico to effectively manage them.
 
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