As a wildlife advocate with a master’s degree in environmental science, I am concerned. Last month, in “Moving Goal for Mexican Gray Wolf,” Sen. Jeff Flake introduced his amendment to the Senate Energy Bill (S 2012), stripping Endangered Species Act protections from Mexican gray wolves.
They are the world’s most endangered wolf subspecies, with only 113 wild wolves existing in Arizona and New Mexico. There are 25 in Mexico. The entire wild population owes its existence to the MGW Recovery Plan of the Fish and Wildlife Service. To survive, the MGW needs protection from the federal government.
Essentially, Flake’s amendment is an extinction rider. Although he claims that the USFWS is guilty of mismanaging the recovery plan, he is undoubtedly aware that the mismanagement lies with Arizona Game and Fish, the ranching lobby, and Arizona politicians. Arizona G&F has a policy of shooting wolves suspected of livestock depredation. Last year, they killed 14 wolves in Arizona. Each wolf eliminated reduces genetic diversity and the recovery of a sustainable wild population. Additionally, both Arizona and New Mexico policies have stunted growth of the wild population by severely limiting the reintroduction of more genetically diverse captive wolves and restricting the recovery area.
Flake falsely claims that the USFWS broke its word regarding returning management of the Mexican gray wolf (MGW) to the states. A population of 100 wild wolves was never a stated goal of the USFWS. No credible biologist or agency would ever propose 100 wolves was enough for sustainability.
Ultimately, Flake appears to wants to eliminate the Endangered Species Act, and he has used the ranching lobby as a vehicle to garner support. He has subsequently claimed wolf reintroduction is unconstitutional. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hiding behind the 10th Amendment and ignoring public sentiment, Flake wants to forfeit control of federal lands to the states and is unconcerned about the fate of endangered wildlife.
In short, Flake’s amendment is a ruse. Call your Senators and urge them to stop this extinction amendment.