Westerners pack the room for wolves

FWSWolfHearing-photobyJan Maguire.jpg

By Mary Katherine Ray, Chapter Wildlife Chair

With the government back in business after its October shutdown, all of U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s public hearings on its rule proposals for wolf management have been held. One was in Washington DC before the shutdown, afterwards there was one in Denver, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Pinetop, Ariz. The last two also allowed testimony about the proposed Mexican Wolf rule changes in addition to the delisting all other wolves from Endangered Species protection.

People turned out in force to support wolves nationwide. In most places the number of wolf supporters greatly exceeded those of detractors, including on our home turf in Albuquerque. But even in Pinetop, in the heart of ranchland, the number of wolf supporters was significant. With limited time for testimony and a random drawing for permission to speak, roughly as many spoke in support of stronger protections for lobos as spoke against.

In Albuquerque, where speakers were allowed in the order they signed up, the ratio of speakers was about 2 to1 in support of wolves. The support in the room was about 4 to 1 in favor of wolf protection.

Wolves have friends everywhere, and they need us all. Some of the proposals on offer from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take our lobos down the slow path to extinction. There are plans for less protection and more killing when the population is clearly too small to rebound from losses. Every individual wolf is important. The boundaries are proposed to be larger, but there still are boundary restrictions on where wolves will be allowed to roam.

The comment period on these proposals closed on December 17. Next, the agency will release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that describes the effect the proposals are likely to have. The release of this document will start another comment period and trigger another round of hearings which must be concluded before the final rule is published in 2015. We won’t know the locations of the hearings until the Environmental Impact Statement is released.

Thank you to everyone who sent in comments supporting wolf recovery, who attended rallies and who was present and testified for wolves. Round 1 is done. Let’s grow the movement even more for the next round!

For the latest news about lobos, click here.

ALSO:the official Mexican wolf Facebook page