Sunday, February 08, 2009

Catron County, Wolves & APWE

Catron County, N.M., Commissioner Ed Wehrheim had the information, he had the facts and figures, he had the personal experience, and he understood the issue. What he lacked was a way to educate others about it. Eight years into the Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Project, and millions of dollars in damage to his county later, Wehrheim was ready to stand back and try a new approach. “Before, we’ve always tried to make them follow their own rules and regulations, and we were losing – losing livestock, losing businesses, losing money,” he said. “So we decided to take a page out of their book and work on public opinion.” That was the impetus behind Americans for Preservation of the Western Environment (APWE). “Our object is two fold - educate the public in New Mexico about what the wolf program is doing to their state, and start a fund to help anyone who has legal problems related to the wolf program,” he said. “We have presentations we take to schools, civic groups, business organizations and sporting clubs. We haven’t been turned away yet.” Included in the presentations are the facts and figures that have been causing Wehrheim, his friends, and neighbors so much frustration. “The wolf program has cost the American taxpayer $303,000 per wolf. (Game management groups) are claiming 56 wolves at this point. That’s their own figures – what they say they’ve spent. They say 200 wolves in a five year period will attack and kill or maim over 7,000 head of livestock. That’s their figures again,” he said. “As a county commissioner, who’s lived with this program for eight years now, I’d say their numbers are a little low. Closer to 10,000 to 12,000 head would be more accurate – and that’s just livestock. Game animals aren’t counted. When wolves are training pups to hunt, a pack will kill as many animals as possible; far more than they could ever eat.” “The cost of the Mexican Gray Wolf program to the New Mexico and US economy is well over $60 million in livestock killed, production lost, bankrupt business (outfitters, ranchers, town business), loss of tax revenue, and reduction of tourist visitors, and hunters,” he said. “In current economic conditions, can we stand that?”...From Ag Journal

Wehrheim says APWE has gained 10,000 members by just focusing on mid-size towns on the periphery of the wolf program. He hopes to move to urban centers in the future. They've started a website here. Membership is free but they will certainly accept donations.

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