Letter to the Editor:
The recent admission by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that only 29 gray wolves survive in Arizona (plus 23 in New Mexico) comes at the end of a multi-million dollar 10-year recovery effort. As a highly endangered species, our wolves, like all threatened animals in this great country, were afforded protection under the Endangered Species Act. But, instead of protecting the wolves as is their mandate, Fish and Wildlife continues to trap and kill the last remaining wolves in the Southwest.
Rather than listing the wolf population as endangered, Fish and Wildlife has, through a bureaucratic loophole, listed our wolves as an "experimental population" in the wild. This wordplay allows the government to exterminate wolves that venture outside of arbitrary wilderness release areas, as long as "backup" wolves are bred in captivity. Instead of letting mother nature restore the wolf for free, we pay millions of dollars to breed, release, and then kill wolves in an absurd parody of nature.
A more cynical citizen might presume political malfeasance in creating a "recovery plan" that was designed to fail. But I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt to our hardworking elected officials and presume that this situation is simply the result of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. The sheer incompetence, not to mention futile waste of taxpayer dollars, of this "experiment" is outrageous...with such low population levels the Southwest's gray wolf is poised to slip through a bureaucratic loophole into oblivion. If we wish to allow the wolf to survive we cannot allow the continued incompetence of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.