July 08, 2013

Colorado and Utah Fought Wolf Protection Plan

(I missed this item last month, but got the link from Cat Urbigkit's Wolf Watch.)

Documents obtained show that Colorado and Utah state wildlife officials strongly opposed federal plans to declare gray wolves "endangered" (hence protected) in those states if and when the wolves showed up.
The documents suggest the animal's fate was decided through political bargaining between state and federal officials, said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The nonprofit group obtained the records through a freedom of information lawsuit and provided them to The Associated Press.

"In simplest terms, these documents detail how the gray wolf lost a popularity contest among wildlife managers," Ruch said. . . . .
The administration's plan unveiled earlier this month [June 2013] would declare gray wolves are only endangered in a relatively small part of the Southwest inhabited by a few dozen Mexican wolves — a subspecies of the gray wolf.
To quote again from the US Fish and Wildlife service's news release, "The Service is also proposing to maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest, where it remains endangered"

And that was the area under contention, apparently.

Colorado does not have any wolves, officially, although isolated individuals have wandered down from Wyoming. (Pet wolves or wolf-dog hybrids have also been released, another issue.) I have heard tales of wild wolves roaming on the Western Slope as far back as the 1980s, before they were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park, but those tales remain just that. 

Why resist federal protection? The usual reasons: fear of reduced deer and elk herds, hence hunting-license revenue loss; fear of attacks on livestock, be that at traditional cattle ranches or New West-ish alpaca operations; fear of attacks on people.

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