MCNARY — After many complaints, a public hearing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to change the nonessential experimental designation of the Mexican gray wolf, list it as a subspecies, and de-list the gray wolf in the rest of the country was finally held on Dec. 3.
The day was filled with meetings, including the public hearing held at 6 p.m., a public information meeting at 3:30 p.m. and a press conference at 1:30 p.m., all at the Hon-Dah Resort Conference Center.
Earlier that day, a public meeting was held at the McNary Community Center that was hosted by the Citizens for Multiple Land Use and Access (CMLUA).
Apache County Natural Resource Coordinator Doyel Shamley helped put the meeting together, which featured a showing of the first part of a documentary, “Wolves in Government Clothing,” and featured several guest speakers. Over 80 people attended the meeting, some coming from Globe, Payson, Phoenix, Alaska and New Mexico.
Some of those in attendance included Apache County Supervisor Barry Weller, Tom Jenney of Americans for Prosperity, which helped produce the documentary, Globe Mayor Terry Wheeler, Arizona Association of Counties Executive Director Jen Sweeney, Penny Pew, a representative of Rep. Paul Gosar’s office, Steve Titla of the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council, and a Graham County supervisor. David Spady, the creator of the video, was unable to attend due to illness.
Shamley stated that a lot of what would be heard at the meeting would not be heard in the public hearing by Fish and Wildlife.
Jenney told the group that they were taking the documentary around the country to show the plight of local farmers, ranchers and communities that have wolves in their midst, and to show the little-reported consequences that result.
One such consequence was an Idaho rancher who lost 176 sheep in one weekend in August to wolves. Most of the sheep were not eaten. The video featured local rancher Wink Crigler, New Mexico rancher Corwin Hulsey and Titla.
Spady said in the video that the Endangered Species Act has gone from its beginning as a balanced conservation effort to a tool used by environmentalists and the government to control private property, which has led to the loss of thousands of jobs and damages to the economic viability of rural communities.
Titla said in the video that though they voted three times to turn down wolves being placed on the San Carlos Reservation, the government put them right next to the boundaries and they have moved onto tribal lands. They have lost so many cattle that it has created a hardship for the tribe as they do not have the money to address the issues and the “Fish and Wildlife has ignored us.
“We have feelings of helplessness and hopelessness,” said Titla. “Wolves control us unless we control them. The government is in charge.”
During the meeting, Titla said that the federal government has continued to break promises and trust with the people of the tribe and Arizona.
“I’m telling you as an Apache who has lived through two broken treaties; do not trust the government.”
Jess Carey has been the wolf investigator for Catron County, N.M., for 10 years, and said that most of the wolf/human and wolf/livestock interactions happen on private property. He had a list of 10 years worth of numbers about wolf complaints, depredations and interactions.
“Wolves seek out human areas because they lack any fear of humans,” said Carey. Waving his data sheets, Carey said, “One residence reported wolves coming onto their property 23 times and nothing was done about it.”
Laura Schneberger is an officer of the Gila Livestock Association in New Mexico and has been documenting the impacts of hundreds of incidents of the wolves on families and private property since the wolves were introduced to the area in 1998. She showed pictures of these encounters and most had children’s play equipment in the background. She said she documented this because the “feds won’t talk about it.”
District 7 State Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai talked about how proud she was to work with Apache County and how concerned she was about the threat to the people of Arizona because of the government programs.
Weller said he was most concerned about the health, safety and welfare of the residents, and that the federal and state government programs do not consider the socio-economic impacts so the counties have to.
Matt Cronin is a research professor at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and works in the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. He says he is a scientist who works with animal genetics and as a land grant researcher.
Cronin also wrote a chapter in the book, “The Real Wolf,” which is coming out early next year and which was written by Ted B. Lyon and Will N. Graves, both experts on wolves. His chapter deals with species, subspecies and populations, and he said there are no hard criteria to claim the Mexican gray wolf as a subspecies.
“The science is subjective and I want the Fish and Wildlife Service to admit it,” said Cronin. “I don’t think the Mexican wolf is a subspecies and there is a clear and obvious distinction between the science and the management issues. Science does not dictate management.”
A big concern for Cronin is the way the Endangered Species Act is dictating what private property owners can do on their property. He says the government is exceeding its constitutional power, specifically of the Fifth and 10th amendments.
“We need to get states to invalidate the ESA on all lands except federal,” said Cronin.
The meeting ran from noon until about three to allow everyone to attend the public information meeting at Hon-Dah.
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