Monday, December 17, 2012

Enviros worry about Arizona's control of wolves

A four-year lapse in release of new captive-born Mexican gray wolves to Southwest national forests could end next year, but the proposal, floated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is already drawing fire from environmentalists as inadequate and little more than a way to forestall more robust releases. The proposal is also worrisome, environmentalists say, because it appears to illustrate how much the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has deferred decision-making authority over the controversial releases to the Arizona agency. The Fish and Wildlife Service has “made it clear that they want the state wildlife agencies to approve those releases and, because of that, we haven’t seen those releases,” said Sandy Bahr, the Phoenix-based director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. Asked whether the Arizona commission or its Game and Fish Department have the final say on whether wolves are released into the recovery zone in that state, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman issued a statement saying the federal government is responsible under the Endangered Species Act for recovering the wild wolf population. The statement also said the federal agency and state work as “partners” in wolf recovery under a memorandum of understanding and that state partners “have no decision-making authority over” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But Peter Ossorio, a Las Cruces-based advocate of wolf recovery, said he was skeptical of the Service’s stated position. Ossorio said Arizona’s proposal amounts to a “veto” over new releases. The Arizona Game and Fish Department proposal calls for the release of between one and three captive wolves to replace three lobos illegally shot between November 2011 and July 2012 in Arizona. Two of the wolves shot were males from the Bluestem pack. In the various proposals under consideration, Arizona’s goal is to establish a breeding pair in the Bluestem pack and to, in essence, replace another pair, the Rim pack, that has not produced pups since the spring of 2010. The proposal follows an Arizona Game and Fish Commission policy that says the agency will only support initial releases of wolves in the state to replace wolves killed illegally or that have died from “natural events,” such as vehicle collisions or lightning strikes. Under existing rules, captive-bred wolves can be released only to a primary recovery zone in Arizona. That means the “secondary” recovery zone in New Mexico, including the Gila National Forest, is available only for the relocation of previously captured wolves. Supporters of the reintroduction program have long urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to change the project’s rules to allow the direct release of wolves into the Gila National Forest, since it makes up roughly three-fourths of the 4.4-million-acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The recovery area straddles the Arizona-New Mexico line and includes about 700,000 acres that are both roadless and free of livestock...more

Enviros keep telling us you can graze in Wilderness Areas, but note the 700,000 acres that are "free of livestock."

Notice the use of "free".  They don't say "no grazing" or where "grazing doesn't occur".  No, the land is "free" of livestock.  I guess the rest of the areas suffer under the "tyranny" of livestock grazing.  

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