A new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) plan to expand the area for the Mexican grey wolf reintroduction calls for virtually all of Southern New Mexico to become wolf habitat—but advocates at a hearing about the plan, held on August 13, repeatedly expressed their desire to have wolves introduced north of I-40—which would include the urban areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Wolves are master predators that attack bigger prey: deer, elk, horses, and cattle—but will carry off dogs and cats. The wolves that are a part of the reintroduction program are not afraid of people and will come right up to a house if they are hungry.
Supporters plead for people to “open their eyes and hearts to wolves, to remove boundaries.” One claimed that “The big bad wolf isn’t so bad after all,” and added: “There’s no proof a wolf has ever harmed a human.”
Most opponents of the plan live in areas already impacted by the original 1998 wolf reintroduction.
One woman told of growing up on her family’s farm. She remembers being able to play by the stream without fear. But now, with wolves around, it is a different story for her grandchildren. They came to visit one day. They brought their new puppy. As they bounded out of the car toward the house, two wolves emerged from the creek and snatched the puppy, as the shocked children helplessly watched. They are now afraid to go to grandma’s house. They have nightmares.
Others told similar stories. Children, waiting for the school bus, have to be caged to be protected from the wolves. Nine ranches in the current habitat area along the New Mexico/Arizona border have been sold due to wolf predation—too many cattle are killed, and ranchers are forced off the land.
Had I been called to speak, I’d have addressed the lunacy of the plan. After huge amounts of effort and resources have been invested to save the sand dune lizard and the lesser prairie chicken in and around the oil patch of southeastern New Mexico, they now want to introduce a master predator that will gobble up the other endangered species? After all, as many proponents pointed out, “wolves don’t have maps.” They don’t stay within the boundaries of the FWS plan. They go where the food is.
As I listened to the presenters, I wondered: “Why do they do this?” People and their property need to be protected. Instead, supporters whined that capturing wolves and moving them away from communities “traumatizes” them. What about the harm to humans, the traumatized children? Does human blood need to be shed to consider that they have been harmed?
Perhaps the answer to “why?” came from one person who opened with this: “I am from New York. I don’t know anything about ranching or wolves.” And then added: “Ranching will be outdated in 10-15 years. We can’t keep eating meat.”
This story is about New Mexico, Arizona, and the Mexican grey wolf. But similar stories can easily be found in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, where the Canadian grey wolf was reintroduced nearly two decades ago. Environmental groups want to bring the wolf back to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
While the public hearing regarding the expanded introduction of the Mexican Grey Wolf is over, the U.S. FWS is accepting written comments on the proposed revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf through September 23. (http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056-6056)
People shouldn’t lie awake in fear for their families and property because our own government introduces a predator amongst us.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
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