Almost two decades ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 11 Mexican gray wolves to portions of Arizona and New Mexico. Now 110 roam freely.
In light of the success of the population revamp, federal plans have since expanded to include a reintroduction of the species in Colorado and Utah. However, both officials and citizens alike are meeting that proposal with suspicion for a myriad of reasons.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency hopes “to complete a comprehensive recovery plan for the Mexican wolf in 2017, and officials say they’ve made no decision about releasing them in Colorado or Utah.” State governors joined the officials of Arizona and New Mexico to discuss the negative impacts of the reintroduction.
The central point of contention in the process is the belief that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency is using biased, flawed scientific and research methods when determining the appropriate population for the Mexican gray wolf. Granted, 20 years ago, when the population was reintroduced, it was almost entirely decimated.
However, wolves are wolves, and concern also lingers heavily over the fact that they are natural carnivorous predators. While environmental groups are pushing for the expanded release of the Mexican gray wolf, the opposition argues that “wolves would inflict costly and cruel losses on cattle and sheep and decimate big game herds that support the lucrative hunting industry.”
A further argument is that because it is a nonnative species, it would taint the gene pool of the gray wolves currently thriving in the northern Rocky Mountains. However, Jonathon Proctor of Defenders of Wildlife “argued that both states are within the wolves’ historical range. The West needs wolves to help restore balance to the environment.”
His point is also a heated topic among most species reintroduction plans, and that’s that wolves were eradicated from the West because of humans, and so the responsibility therefore is up to us to bring the species back to healthy fruition.
Colorado and Utah also point to Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana specifically for use in their argument against releasing the wolves. Cattle deaths declined and game herds have since rebounded when wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act protection plan, which allowed a modest, yet functioning hunting season.
Though the decision is far from being made, both Colorado and Utah governments are beginning the fight early to keep the wolves out.
What do you think? Should Mexican gray wolves be reintroduced to their historical lands, or do they cause too much of a threat to individual ranchers’ livelihoods?