A male Mexican gray wolf released into the wild last week in hopes of expanding the endangered species is doing well, Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say.
The 4-year-old wolf set free in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is the first of its kind to be released in the last four years, officials said in a statement.
Wildlife officials hope the wolf will replace the pack’s breeding Bluestem alpha male, which was illegally killed last year. The Mexican wolf, called M1133, was released in time for breeding season after ensuring that the alpha female hadn’t already paired with another male. If he becomes her mate, he will provide the pack with some genetic diversity.
M1133 was born in captivity in 2008 and taken to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility later that year along with his parents and littermate. There, he was prepared for release.
The wolf wears a radio collar, allowing biologists to monitor him. Four wolves in the pack, including the alpha female, also wear collars. Officials say at least three uncollared wolves are in the pack as well.
Federal officials placed the Mexican gray wolf on the endangered species list in 1976 after it was hunted nearly to extinction. In 1998, federal biologists launched a program to reintroduce the wolf in Arizona and New Mexico. As of 2011, 58 Mexican gray wolves were reported living in the Southwest.
The Mexican gray wolf -- which once roamed Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico -- is genetically distinct from wolves elsewhere in North America.
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PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR THANKING THE PAPER FOR THIS ARTICLE AND CALLING ON THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO RELEASE MANY MORE MEXICAN WOLVES INTO THE WILD.
The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly-your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to email@example.com.
Start by thanking the paper for publishing the article. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
Point out that the potential for this wolf to be released is good news, but one release is inadequate to make up for a more than four-year moratorium on new releases. Many more releases are needed and just replacing wolves killed in the previous year in Arizona will not provide the growth and increased genetic health the tiny wild population needs.
Remind readers that the last population count found only 58 Mexican gray wolves in the wild and an aggressive genetic rescue program that frees many wolves into the wild is needed. The wild population of Mexican wolves is at tremendous risk due to its small size and genetics and in its proposal for 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to only put out one or two more wolves within or next to existing wolves’ territories, and says the new wolves will be killed or removed if they become a “nuisance.”
There is plenty of room for many more wolves to be released. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area comprises 4.4 million acres (twice the size of Yellowstone National Park), which support an extraordinary array of wildlife and vegetation types. Because the Fish and Wildlife Service is using the mere presence of livestock as a justification not to release wolves into a wider range of the available area in Arizona, and because the agency has refused to change the rule that arbitrarily excludes new wolves from being released directly into New Mexico, almost every release alternative in the proposal involves releasing wolves into or near the territory of an existing wild pack. This is less than ideal and can be avoided by changing the rule and using proactive measures with livestock. In addition, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has welcomed wolves onto its 1.67-million-acre reservation in Arizona adjoining the national forest.
Urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to expedite the Mexican gray wolf recovery planning process. A draft recovery plan to replace the outdated 1982 plan has been developed but politics has stalled the recovery planning process. The draft recovery plan should be put out for public comment.
Tell readers why you support wolves and stress that the majority of New Mexico and Arizona voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Polling showed 69% support in New Mexico and 77% support in Arizona.
Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.
Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters.
Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 words.
Provide your name, address, occupation, and phone number; your full address, occupation, and phone number will not be published, but they are required in order to have your letter published.