- Arizona says it has run out of execution drugs
- Police & fire scanners
- Arizona's economic growth slowed in 2015, as copper mining took a hit
- More children dying of heat after being left in cars
- Live weather radar
- Heraldgate is needlessly spinning out of control on Ally Miller2
- Deadlocked court leaves thousands of immigrants in limbo 2
- Update: 2 hikers die, 1 missing, on Tucson trails as temps spike to 115-plus2
- Ex-Ally Miller staffer 'confesses' he was behind bizarre blog2
- Giffords calls for civility in this ‘very negative’ campaign season2
Posted Feb 18, 2011, 8:33 am
A group GOP lawmakers wants to send a postcard of sorts urging Congress to remove the endangered species designation for the gray wolf, including a subspecies reintroduced in Arizona in 1998.
Pointing to complaints that gray wolves in Montana and other states have decimated moose and elk herds, a memorial authored by Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, says Arizona would benefit from having complete oversight of recovery efforts for the Mexican gray wolf.
The House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources endorsed the measure Monday on a 7-2 vote, with Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, and Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson, dissenting.
Facing extinction, the gray wolf became protected under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. It was reintroduced to the northern Rockies and parts of the Southwest, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had great success restoring wolves in the Rockies, with a population of 1,700 at last count well beyond the goal of 300.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife has proposed de-listing the northern Rockies population of wolves, but that's been blocked by court rulings. A candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana has proposed having Congress de-list all gray wolves, including the subspecies in Arizona.
Weiers' memorial, which has more than 40 GOP primary and co-sponsors, calls the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona a failure because litigation by wildlife advocates has blocked federal officials from removing wolves that prey on livestock.
The Mexican gray wolf was reintroduced into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which includes east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico. Around 50 Mexican gray wolves now live in the area, sometimes drawing ire of cattle ranchers.
Patrick Bray, a lobbyist for the Arizona Cattlemen's Association, said ranchers here can empathize with concerns raised in Montana. He called the wolves "devastating" to livestock.
Concerned about keeping quality reporting alive in Tucson?
A metro area of nearly 1 million deserves a vital & sustainable source of news that's independent and locally run.
Support TucsonSentinel.com with a contribution today!
"We are in the business of keeping cattle alive," Bray told the committee.
Suzanne Gilstrap, a representative of Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, said wolves should be managed like other animals before they begin to kill other wildlife.
"We don't want to see what happened in the northern Rockies happen to our state," Giltrap said.
Although the Arizona Game and Fish Commission hasn't endorsed the memorial, it does support the national movement to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list.
"It isn't necessarily because we felt the wolf was recovered," Lynda Lambert, a Game and Fish Department spokeswoman, said in a phone interview. "There has been a lot of gridlock, and we feel it would be more beneficial if they were de-listed."
In voting against the measure, Patterson said he's concerned that removing gray wolves from the endangered species list would decimate Mexican gray wolves.
"We know there is no state law that would provide protection," he said.
Wheeler said he doubted the livestock industry's claims that 50 wolves could decimate enough cattle to cause a significant economic impact.
"How can 50 gray wolves threaten the existence of other livestock in Arizona?" he said.
Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, said removing protection from the Mexican gray wolf doesn't make sense.
Support TucsonSentinel.com & let thousands of daily readers know
your business cares about creating a HEALTHIER, MORE INFORMED Tucson
"This animal still teeters on the brink of extinction," Bahr told the committee. "Basically it is signing their death warrant."