In 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned the first Mexican grey wolves into the wild in the Blue Range Primitive Area of eastern Arizona. Their recovery goal is “to conserve and protect the Mexican grey wolf and its habitat so that its long term survival is secured, populations are capable of enduring threats and it can be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.”
The cause sounds noble and upon first glance, it gives the appearance that the Mexican grey wolf primitively had a very robust and established population. In reality, the historical evidence of a thriving, large wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico may be as grey as the wolf itself.
The Endangered Species Act has over-stepped its bounds. How does it trump all other constitutional rights including property rights, state rights and personal rights? This recovery process has been non-transparent and undemocratic. Unelected officials from an administrative body are creating and pushing a program that neither Congress nor a judicial body ever mandated. No American citizens ever voted for a wolf recovery. These unelected officials remain faceless and nameless and pose a huge threat to our Western heritage and essentially our American freedom.
in Arizona and New Mexico, rural citizens are under attack. Freedoms, rights and opportunities they once enjoyed in the rural sector are being stripped away. The American cowboy is the endangered species, and nowhere is there an act to conserve and protect him. Many small family ranches in the Southwest are being overwhelmed with wolf presence. What started out as an occasional incident has become weekly depredation and slaughter. Over the last three years the number of confirmed wolf kills on livestock (cattle & horses) has been increasing at over 60% annually. At this rate, neither cattle nor wildlife can sustain healthy balance.
On May 17, dozens of local citizens from Apache and Greenlee counties and many from neighboring New Mexico counties united and rode horseback into Alpine, Arizona. They met in the same building where 20 years ago a public meeting was held regarding the concerns of the new wolf recovery program. Now many of the same people who attended the first meeting, returned to discuss the much needed change. The same concerns that previously existed now are backed with two decades of economic loss, looming human danger and negative experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ranchers, outfitters, local business owners and rural citizens met to discuss a resolution they hope will initiate change. The economic impact of the recovery program is crippling these already struggling counties. Apache County, Arizona and Catron County, New Mexico are amongst the poorest counties in the country. As wolf numbers grow, so to will the financial impact on families and communities who reside in the recovery area.
H. Jay Platt lives in Catron County New Mexico.