Monday, December 07, 2015

Utah officials: Mexican wolf is ‘bullet’ that could destroy West

As federal wildlife officials begin another effort to revise a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf after three failed attempts over the past two decades, Utah Wildlife Board Chairman John Bair says that no evidence will ever convince him that Mexican wolves should be allowed in Utah. "People want to use the wolf as the silver bullet to kill the culture of the West," said Bair, a gifted auctioneer and self-proclaimed "Mormon redneck" from Springville. "There is no need to have them here other than those political reasons." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists facilitating Mexican wolf recovery planning are scheduled to meet next week at the COD Ranch outside Tucson, Ariz., with state representatives and other stakeholders. Leaders in Utah, as well as Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, are attacking the credibility of FWS's science, alleging it is rigged to improperly include the Four Corners region in the recovery zone for this critically imperiled wolf subspecies. The states also object to the venue for next week's meeting because it is has hosted meetings of conservation groups. The Utah Wildlife Board on Wednesday piled on when it dispatched a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, arguing that directing wolf recovery toward Utah "is simply bad policy, bad science, bad for the Mexican wolf, and bad for the states strapped with the burden of hosting protected wolf populations." But a key scientist on the recovery team and Utah wildlife advocates say Utah is dead wrong. Officials are turning their back on the best wolf science and engaging in political interference to thwart an effective recovery of Mexican wolves, whose numbers in the wild have stagnated at around 100, said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy...more

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