WILLCOX — During last month’s meeting with U.S. Rep Martha McSally, R-Ariz., members of the Willcox-San Simon Natural Resource Conservation District expressed concerns over the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf.
“Public comments were ignored,” said district member Larry Parker, adding that the final environmental impact statement “does not comply with The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969,” which reads, “To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man.”
“The Fish and Wildlife Service wants cattle and wolves to co-exist, but a wolf kills everything to eat,” he said.
“We have no prey base in Cochise County,” Parker said, adding that, most likely, livestock would be eaten instead.
The Mexican wolf was added to the endangered species list in 1976, and on March 29, 1998, captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, a region that includes Apache, Greenlee and Graham counties in Arizona, and Catron and Grant counties in New Mexico.
“I will keep you informed on the wolf legislation,” McSally told those gathered for the July 3 meeting.
McSally is a co-sponsor of a piece of legislation related to this issue, known as the “Mexican Wolf Transparency Act.”
Introduced on June 25 this year by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., the bill is to ensure that “USFWS Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population 10(j) rule has no force or effect, and for other purposes.”
“This flawed ‘recovery program’ is government overreach at its worst,” McSally said. “It jeopardizes public safety, threatens the livelihoods of Arizona ranchers and farmers, and lacks any clear target or end date.
“Arizona is far better equipped to handle the management and preservation of our natural habitats than the Washington-driven approach represented here, which is why I’ve co-sponsored legislation to delist the Mexican wolf, terminate this experimental program and protect local communities.”
On June 8, the Arizona attorney general and Arizona Game and Fish Department filed a lawsuit against the secretary of the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “for failing their statutory duty to develop an updated recovery plan to guide Mexican wolf recovery.”