Mexican gray wolf

A Mexican gray wolf, fitted with a radio collar, is shown in this 2018 photo.

In a special meeting Wednesday, the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors approved a series of comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the agency’s revision of a planning document for the Mexican gray wolf.

Starting in 1998, Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced to Arizona and New Mexico in a species recovery program. Fish and Wildlife is seeking public input on court-ordered changes to its 2015 revision of an environmental impact statement on the program, and Greenlee County’s comments were part of that public input.

In March 2018, the U.S. District Court of Arizona ordered the agency to revisit the non-captive wolf population’s designation as nonessential. According to Fish and Wildlife, reasons for that designation included an increase in and greater genetic diversity among the captive wolf population.

In their comments to the agency, and for the reasons above, the board of supervisors favored keeping the nonessential designation.

The comments also urged Fish and Wildlife to “consider the implications” before making any changes to allowable take and removal provisions for the wolves, whether the take is by a livestock guard dog or by people defending domestic animals or human life.

“The minimal effect on the MWEPA (Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area) population by allowable take and removal has far less negative effect than illegal take,” the county wrote.

The board also approved similar comments on the planning document by the Eastern Counties Organization, made up of Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee and Navajo Counties.

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