Mexican Gray WolfBenjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has published an Op-Ed in the Arizona Republic:

Wolf recovery can succeed

The Op-Ed is released, likely to smooth things over, amidst recent controversy in response to inaction on the part of FWS including at least 2 lawsuits and a recent poll demonstrating southwesterners [overwhelmingly] want wolves (77 percent of Arizonans and 69 percent of New Mexicans support wolf reintroduction on public lands).

The Mexican gray wolf is considered by scientists as the most endangered mammal in North America and efforts at restoration have been stymied, the greatest threat to Mexican wolves being predator control actions enforced on behalf of the livestock industry.

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Brian Ertz

8 Responses to [Mexican] Wolf recovery can succeed

  1. Maska says:

    How Dr. Tuggle can equate a net loss of Mexican wolves between 2003 (55) and the end of 2007 (52) with moving away from extinction is beyond me.

    “Socioeconomic carrying capacity” sounds like a construct created by somebody who lacks the moxie to enforce the law in the face of opposition from a handful of noisy special interests.

  2. mikarooni says:

    Oh, my yes! The term “SOCIOECONOMIC carrying capacity” is so loaded with political slant and matches the twisted propaganda of the Catron County movement so well that its very use by Tuggle in this context is a poisonous injection into the discussion. I have great respect for so many of our federal civil servants. I know and admire many of the good people who are forced to hide down in the bowels of the FS, the NPS, the FWS, and even the BLM. There truly are good people there; but, I am also forced to realize that for someone, anyone, to reach and retain the position of Southwest regional director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, especially the southwest region, after the past eight years of the most vile and corrupt executive branch leadership since Harding and Albert Fall, then that individual must either be weak to the point of being a full-up quisling or as toxic in his beliefs and ethics as the executive branch leadership itself. If not, he would not be in the position long enough to make the statement.

    By the way, if you have any remaining delusions about John McCain, you need to spend more time looking at what is allowed to go on in the federal structure down in Arizona and remember how long he has been the senior senator from Arizona. Senior senators have power and can set a clear tone if they want.

  3. Rick Hammel says:

    Dr. Tuggle hits the nail on the head. Sharing the land is not in most ranchers vocabulary. Even if these ranchers were to know what sharing means, they would not know how to do it. There will never be a successful reintroduction program in the Southwest until the livestock interests learn to share the land, and the ungulates, with the Mexican wolf.


  4. JB says:

    For those who don’t remember, Ben Tuggle made the “policy call” that the Desert bald eagle was not a DPS and then ordered FWS biologists to find an analysis supporting this conclusion. From the Center for Biological Diversity (

    “’On July 18, 2006, FWS scientists and officials from the FWS Arizona Field Office, the Southwest Regional Office in New Mexico, and the Listing Branch Office of the Division of Conservation & Classification in Washington, D.C., participated in a telephone conference call. AR 1980-1988. During that call, although Sarah Quamme, of the FWS’s Regional Office, stated that there was “no info[rmation] to refute [Plaintiffs’ petition] at [the] 90 day stage,” FWS biologist Chris Nolan asserted that whether or not a population qualifies as a DPS is “largely a policy call.” AR 1983, 1985. He informed the participants that “Ben [Tuggle, FWS Southwest Regional Director] and Ren [Loenhoffer, FWS Associate Director in the Washington, D.C. Office] have reached [a] policy call & we need to support [it].” AR 1985. Sarah Quamme then stated that the “[a]nswer has to be that its [sic] not a DPS . . . [w]e have marching orders.” AR 1985, 1987. Doug Krofta, of the Washington, D.C. Office, also stated that “[w]e’ve been given an answer now we need to find an analysis that works. .”

  5. mikarooni says:

    One half of the Ben and Ren show was he? Yes, well, there it is and I rest my case.

    By the way, inertia is a natural force; a body at rest or in an established pattern of motion will remain in that state until other forces act on it to change its status quo. In this case, it is certainly true that “sharing the land is not” currently “in most ranchers vocabulary.” To change that state will require a force or factor that nudges them into a different trajectory, which is where someone in Tuggle’s position is supposed to come in. We can talk all we want about wishing “livestock interests learn to share the land;” but, we have to hold people who cash a “Tuggle paycheck” accountable for doing their job, which is to give “livestock interests” a reason to change their current trajectory and “share,” so to speak. Holding the Tuggles accountable is what elections are for; use them wisely this time.

  6. Brian Ertz says:

    it’s so outrageous – the “socioeconomic” viability of habitat ? how can one use the principle cause of extirpation (“socioeconomic” intolerance) as a variable in the redress of that very extirpation ? to preclude and obstruct laws established to ensure recovery ?

    furthermore, Tuggle’s call for continued collaboration with Livestock is absurd. it was collaboration with Livestock that resulted in the 3 strikes rule and heavy handed predator controls that now stand as the principle threat to Mexican gray wolves.

    Livestock don’t belong in the desert.

  7. JB says:


    Wildlife managers have borrowed the term “social carrying capacity” from the recreation resource management literature; other social scientists have written about “wildlife acceptance capacity” (or WAC; I know, I know) which is essentially the same thing. I have never heard anyone use the term “socioeconomic carrying capacity.” It is interesting that he should throw out this terminology with regard to a population of well under 100 wolves, as most of the time it is reserved for species so numerous that they cause problems (e.g. white tailed deer, Canada geese, raccoons, skunks, etc.) or species whose activities cause damage to private property (e.g. black bear, beaver, raccoons, etc.). Yes, I understand that wolves damage ranchers private property, but those damages are laughably small when compared to the damage caused by, say white tailed deer.

    At any rate, I have never heard a single scientist or manager advocate that we manage based on the maximum or minimum social carrying capacity–it is supposed to be used to identify problem areas for the agency and develop programs and/or educational materials to address the problem.

    As an aside, I would not blame the program’s failure on collaboration in this case. The problem (in my opinion) is ranchers/residents unwillingness to compromise. Collaboration does not mean that the agency teams up with one interest group and hashes out a plan suitable to that group, its an inclusive process involving all interests. Regardless, I don’t believe it will work in this particular case because of the polarized nature of the situation.

    my 2 cents

  8. Maska says:

    Collaborative processes only work where everybody accepts the final, overall goal. In the case of the Mexican wolf, those in opposition have never accepted the basic goal of wolf recovery. Nor has FWS required them to acknowledge the legitimacy of the goal in order to have a place at the table as “stakeholders” in previous processes, such as the stakeholder panel of the now-defunct 2003 recovery team.

    Having failed to end the program through two separate lawsuits, the cattlegrowers and county supremacy forces are now convinced that if they complain loudly and long enough, politicians beholden to livestock interests (e.g. Steve Pearce) will give them what they want–an end to the program. Under these circumstances, “collaboration” is doomed to fail.


July 2008


‎"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