APACHE COUNTY — Many of the standing room only crowd at the May 21 meeting of the Board of Supervisors came for the agenda item on approving an ordinance concerning predatory animal regulations and the increasing threat to the safety, health and welfare of people.
Local ranchers, and some from New Mexico who have ranches on the state line, were there and spoke during the public hearing before the supervisors went into executive session for legal advice.
Gerald Scott told the board he grew up in Alpine and was a local rancher who is concerned about the wolf issue. He commended the board for looking at the issue.
Wink Crigler of the X Diamond Ranch in Eagar said she was also concerned about the predator issues and over the past year-and-a-half had suffered “significant losses” from wolves. She stated there were “scary things looming on the horizon” and she supports the county to develop some kind of management process.
John Bennett of Springerville stated said the issue was not about the wolves, but about the overreach of the federal government and them telling citizens what to do. He said that as president of the Citizens for Multiple Land Use and Access, his group would support them in any way they could.
Gary Finch of Eagar said that with rights come responsibilities and the advocates of wolves did not accept their responsibilities. He stated that animals cannot be given rights and that the people responsible for them must assume those responsibilities. He talked about the plan to reintroduce the wolves and grizzly bears in a corridor from Mexico to Canada because “they don’t want us here.”
Corwin Hulsey told the board he had lost $80,000 in three years from the wolves killing his cattle. He said the mothers are so stressed they don’t give milk and he has had to move his cattle time and time again to keep them away from the wolves.
Marshall Sawyer has a ranch that straddles the New Mexico-Arizona border and stated that it’s been reported the United States will become a net importer of cattle by 2017 and the wolves are part of the decline.
Jason Winns, who also has a New Mexico-Arizona ranch that has been in his family for generations, said the wolf program doesn’t have checks and balances and that bears can be killed when they kill cattle, but not the wolves. He stated ranchers need some help to survive.
After the comments, the board went into executive session and when they came out, passed Ordinance 2013-07, titled “An Ordinance Setting Forth Emergency Predator-Human Incident Protective Measures.”
The ordinance is 11 pages long and spells out the whys and how of what will be done.
Citing the increase in dangerous predators, including introduced, experimental and managed species, the ordinance states that this will result in an increase in human-predator encounters that will result in “threats, attacks, injuries and death to humans,” and will increase threats to settlements and the economic well-being of families and businesses.
Other problems with predators according to the ordinance include: disease and spread of disease that is not being addressed or managed by the agencies in charge; increase in pressure on livestock businesses and negative impacts on big game animals throughout the western United States; psychological impacts and damages that have been proven by licensed mental health professionals; the concerns by experts on the suspicions of the genetic purity of the Mexican gray wolf, “a wolf-dog hybrid;” and the loss of fear of humans that has been documented by the practices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS).
The ordinance states that the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is clear about “The powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
It also refers to the “derived specific and reserved powers from the 10th Amendment, referred to as Police Powers of the State,” stating that the counties have the duty to pass laws and regulations that protect the safety, health and welfare of their communities. Also cited in this regard is Arizona State Statute 11-251.
Other state statutes are cited, giving the counties the right to control and destroy predatory wildlife, enter into cooperative agreements the Department of Agriculture, and make necessary expenditures for those purposes.
The ordinance plainly states that the USFWS and Arizona Game and Fish have not cooperated with the county and have not addressed their concerns and needs.
“Whereas there has been a rise in political posturing and intimidation, including blackmail, surrounding predatory, introduced, experimental, and managed species…there has been an increase in threatening rhetoric and conjecture…and information critical to local governing bodies…has not been forthcoming.”
The purpose of the ordinance is to “set forth and specify emergency response to residents requests for help to remove threatening predators (including wolves)…”
Other specifics include preventing the loss of livestock and other property, reducing human-predator interactions, and preventing human death and injury.
Impeding any county official from performing the tasks set forth in the ordinance will result in a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The ordinance states that it is “illegal to translocate, introduce or allow to be introduced, any predatory, experimental, non-native, or any other species into Apache County, without either fully coordinating with the County prior to any planning efforts, or ensuring compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations.”
The ordinance is being sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona Game and Fish, the USFWS, the Arizona Congress delegation and the Arizona Legislature.
It goes on to list the procedures that will be used in specific incidents of interaction with predators, including killing them. The complete text of the ordinance can be found on the Apache County website.
The ordinance takes effect immediately.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org