Last week’s release of population numbers for Mexican gray wolves was disappointing, but this week there is something really atrocious to yowl about. The Arizona Senate Government and Environment Committee approved three measures that, quite literally, place a target on lobos, and could devastate future recovery efforts. This imperiled population of only 83 wolves now face a triple threat from local legislators including: a proposed bill from Senator Gail Griffin that would allow Arizonans to trap and kill Mexican gray wolves despite federal law; a second bill that appropriates $250,000 in state money to fund state litigation to block federal recovery efforts; and finally, a resolution from Griffin that derails recovery by shifting management control to the state in order to halt reintroduction efforts. This action was aptly described in a recent Arizona Republiceditorial: “Lobos remain perilously close to extinction’s cliff, and Arizona’s Legislature is poised to give them a shove over the edge.
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By Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife
Rep. Doc Hastings recently released a report and a set of proposals that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), severely curtailing the act’s ability to protect the nation’s most imperiled species. He calls it ESA “reform,” but the real goal of Rep. Hastings’ proposals is to drastically weaken or eliminate key protections in the ESA, long a goal of corporate special interests and polluters.
If you think that you have seen this “movie” before, you have. Just like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I feel like I have relived this ESA “reform” moment numerous times before. While the lead characters may differ, the script is always the same. About every six years or so, some anti-environmental member of Congress decides that the time has come to “reform” the ESA into oblivion. Lest they be accused of championing the extinction of manatees or whooping cranes, they always first profess their deep love and support for endangered species, never hesitating to list some of the most beloved charismatic ones. Then they roll up their sleeves and lay out their plans for a step-by-step dismantling of the law.
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On Monday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) announced an abrupt end to their wolf extermination program in the Frank Church Wilderness Area after Defenders and other conservation groups took the issue to federal court earlier this month. As of January 15, the trapper had killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness; he will pack out of the area after all traps and snares have been removed. IDFG says they believe the trapper killed all of the wolves in the Golden and Monumental wolf packs, but the truth is that no one – not event IDFG – knows how many wolves remain in these two packs.Though we are saddened about the nine wolves killed needlessly, any remaining wolves that could have been killed are safe, as are any other animals that could have fallen victim had the effort continued. We are hopeful that our litigation will cause IDFG to think twice about future efforts to eradicate wolves in wilderness areas, and cause U.S. Forest Service officials to deny access to IDFG for such activities.
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