On the Mexican wolf recovery program-

“The [Mexican] wolves will go extinct,” Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, says. “If the program is continued exactly the way it is now, these wolves will go extinct.”

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In my view the federal government’s Mexican Wolf Recovery program is one of the most screwed up, politicized, and incompetent recovery programs the federal government has ever done. Wolves reproduce rapidly, and while we should not expect the rapid population growth here like the wolves in the northern Rockies because the Mexican wolf is extinct in the wild, there is plenty of prey and the Mexican wolves usually adapt  quickly to the wild, have pups, and their pups have pups if the federal government doesn’t shot them first.

Recovery was on track until 2003 when the Fish and Wildlife Service signed an agreement establishing the Adaptive Management Oversight Committee (“A MOC”). The local livestock operators are required to do even less than their counterparts in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It’s like leaving their truck full of fuel, with keys in the ignition, and their credit card on the seat.

As a result, now the population is stagnant, having declined to 50 animals. It is like a minor “put and take” fishery. Note that this analogy is not original with me. Ralph Maughan

Who’s Afraid of… The big bad wolf? When it comes to New Mexico’s recovery program, the real fear is the wolves won’t be saved. By Laura Paskus. Sante Fe Reporter.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to Who's Afraid of…

  1. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    When will there be some changes in this program? This is horribly stagnant, as the article said.

  2. avatar Ken Cole says:

    It’s a perfect example of how “adaptive management” doesn’t work.

  3. avatar Jeff N. says:

    This was a good article. Obviously this recovery program needs a major change in direction.

    Do away w/ AMOC. The only parties involved should be the USFWS, AZ Game and Fish, NM Game and Fish, White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Apache. The San Carlos Apache should be included in the recovery area, even if it’s against the wishes of the San Carlos. Many wolves wonder onto these lands when they disperse. It is great habitiat and would add a nice chunk of real estate to the recovery area. At this time any wolf that enters the San Carlos lands is recaptured. This just happened recently, again. Let’s work in collaboration with the San Carlos in allowing natural dispersing wolves to remain on their land.
    Take it even further and do away with the entire recovery area boundary. If the wolves have set up shop outside the recovery area, leave them alone.

    Secondly, forget about trying to work with NM Cattle Growers. Impose rules that mandate carcass removal. They do not remotely support recovery and should not have a seat at or near the table. How can you work with an assocoiation whose Exec. Director, Caren Cowan, makes claims such as “people are afraid to go in their backyards (nothing new here, they love the old ‘I’m a prisoner in my own house’ B.S.)”, and this beauty – “It’s like having a sexual predator turned loose in your neighborhood”. Wow.

    Finally, more releases, directly into NM in the Gila and Aldo Leopold (currently wolves can only be reintroduced into NM after being captured in AZ, like the one recently caught on the San Carlos Apache Lands in AZ). Do some soft releases in the Gila and Aldo Leopold, and not in mesh pens. Waive the rule prohibiting the construction of structures in Wilderness Areas (they’d be temporary anyway) and build a few chain link pens in remote areas that would hold the wolves for a few weeks so they get used to their new surroundings. Then maybe upon release they would have a better chance of remaining in that area.

    They’ve been studying ways to improve the program for at least 5 years. There has been plenty of input from experts (I’m not one of them). Let’s get it going.

  4. Jeff N,

    You raise some excellent issues and ideas for solutions. We’re going to be a broken record here and add another one: voluntary compensated permit retirement. For the amount of money the feds spend trying to manage the livestock problem, they really ought to just do away with it once and for all. Give the livestock permittees enough money to find another job or retire. Really, removing livestock (and the livestock industry) from the recovery program is the only way it is going to work.

    We know that enviros can’t ask for the buy-out, but the ranchers can- and should ASAP. Because the more they sound like unreasonable whiners (the quotes in the article are truly awful), the less likely it is that the public will want to give them anything for their troubles. They should get while the gettin’s good.

    One more point- the “neighborhoods” in question belong to all of us. These folks are grazing on federal public land.

  5. avatar Jeff N. says:

    D. Landscapes,

    Voluntary compensated permit retirements would be the best solution. However, I wonder how many of the allotment permitees would rather hold these permits (their mythical private property) just to spite wolf recovery proponents. I’m afraid that cultural differences may trump financial security in this situation. In any case what a bargain for them. We taxpayers subsidize their livelihood then finance their retirement.

  6. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Take it even further and do away with the entire recovery area boundary. If the wolves have set up shop outside the recovery area, leave them alone.

    That is a huge holdup in the program. You cannot expect wolves to recognize boundaries. That is like capturing wolves from Yellowstone that disperse into Montana.

    Secondly, forget about trying to work with NM Cattle Growers. Impose rules that mandate carcass removal. They do not remotely support recovery and should not have a seat at or near the table. How can you work with an assocoiation whose Exec. Director, Caren Cowan, makes claims such as “people are afraid to go in their backyards (nothing new here, they love the old ‘I’m a prisoner in my own house’ B.S.)”,
    While I agree they cannot be taken seriously, if you don’t allow them at the table then they are probably more likely to do the SSS even more than they already are.

    It’s like having a sexual predator turned loose in your neighborhood”. Wow.
    I didn’t know wolves were into that kind of behavior. Does that mean lock up your poodles? 😉 Not even saveelk.com says that one.

  7. avatar Jeff N. says:

    ProWolf,

    Do not allow NM Cattle Growers at the table….period. As I said before they offer zero support for recovery. Let them SSS until they are blue in the face (they do it anyway). unfortunately, the number of wolves killed illegally is dwarfed by government removals. However, maximize the presence of USFWS officers in the recovery area, thoroughly investigate and aggressively prosecute all who illegaly kill wolves. Cowards and bullies fold when smacked in the mouth. This area is full of cowards. They build wolf-proof bus stop shelters for their kids. They actually scapegoat and terrorize their very kids in order to cover up their cowardice.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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