While members of Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Rewilding Institute, and many other environmental groups are in favor of the federal government’s unfettered role in protecting endangered plants and animals, there is a cost that these members either haven’t considered or regard with indifference. As stated by the Board of Supervisors of Catron County, New Mexico, “it is the local government’s responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. This includes protecting local citizens from the adverse societal and economic impacts of federal actions.” (See Catron County Comments regarding Objections to Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf by Listing it as Endangered.)
The Arizona Game and Fish Department also commented on this issue in a 10-page report calling on the failures of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to consider the many negative socio-economic impacts of the Wolf Reintroduction to Arizona.
In 1998, the Mexican Gray Wolf was reintroduced to Catron County, New Mexico, and also Apache and Greenlee Counties in Arizona. These wolves were also released adjacent to the San Carlos Apache Reservation (after the Tribe had refused 3 times over a period of a few years to let the federal government release the wolves on the reservation itself). The San Carlos Apache are in Gila, Graham, and Pinal counties, and they heavily rely on cattle ranching for their livelihood. “These citizens have been forced to bear the burden of the impacts of Mexican wolf reintroduction. They are well aware of the reality of on-the-ground activities that affect their daily lives.”
Here are some issues that are addressed in the first 9 pages of the Catron County Board of Supervisors document:
1) The management of these animals should be placed in the hands of the individual states. When management of these wolves is regulated by local governments rather than from Washington, DC, local citizens have much more meaningful input into the management of the environment they live and work in each day.
2) The USFWS has failed to provide evidence that the Mexican Wolf is endangered. “No total current Mexican wolf population count is provided anywhere in the proposed rule, and therefore it cannot be determined if, in fact, this population is at actual risk of extinction.”
3) The USFWS has failed to justify the listing of the Mexican Wolf as an endangered subspecies.
4) The USFWS has failed to incorporate all factors into adaptive management. “The shooting of wolves as documented by USFWS should serve as a clear indicator of the existence of a serious problem with the reintroduction program, which has proceeded forward since its inception as if these problems did not matter….USFWS has simply ignored the magnitude of the desperate situation of citizens who live and work in the BRWRA (Blue Range Wolf Reintroduction Area), and has made no effort to correct the false impression provided by pro-wolf environmental groups that the blame should be on human beings, rather than the problem wolves. People who live in rural communities cannot be forced to accept the depredation of big game and livestock by the Mexican wolf, nor should USFWS attempt to lay blame for wolf shootings on the independence and the desire for community self-rule in rural America.”
5) The USFWS has failed to incorporate all factors leading to opposition to Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
“The majority of those who champion the wolf as a noble and majestic animal do not have to suffer from the negative social or economic consequences of wolf reintroduction themselves, i.e., they are not true stakeholders and are only indirectly impacted or not impacted at all.”
“The pro-wolf non-stakeholders ignore the cold facts that the actual stakeholders are forced to experience, and which is well documented. As the pro-wolf non-stakeholders express their appreciation of the wolf, they never mention how wolves kill, or how wildlife and livestock that have been harassed by wolves are more susceptible to disease and injury, and fail to reproduce at self-sustaining rates. USFWS, too, avoids mention of how wolves run their prey until the prey is so tired it can no longer escape; how, unlike other non-canine predators such as mountain lions and bears, wolves eat their prey while the animal is still alive; how wolves may consume only the prey animal’s genitals and leave the animal to slowly die; how wolves may slash open their living prey to eat unborn fetuses and leave the mother animal to slowly die; how wolves hunt for fun and don’t even bother eating anything of the prey animals they take down. (See Who’s Paying for the Wolves?)
“These cold facts of how wolves hunt and kill has much to do with the opposition to the Mexican wolf in the BRWRA. When it is a person’s own livestock and pets that have been subject to the torture and agony of a wolf attack, the response is very different. When it is a person’s own family or self that risks wolf attack, fear becomes very immediate and not theoretical, regardless of interest in endangered species restoration.”
6) The USFWS has failed to analyze the significance of lack of success of recovery efforts. There is a single alternative for management of the Mexican Wolf, which is “to turn the settlement of the Southwest clock back at least 100 years in order to provide Mexican wolves with an environment in which they can roam freely and fill a natural niche that can support them. The problem with this alternative for Mexican wolf management is that the environmental niche for the Mexican wolf to fill no longer exists, and that it would take very drastic changes in the environment to recreate such a niche. “