Editorial: Reintroducing wolves is an unworkable plan
We like wolves as much as anyone else. They mate for life, are resilient, and are beautiful animals. Unfortunately, man killed them off from Arizona more than 40 years ago - and reintroducing them and allowing them to roam across most of Arizona, south of Interstate 40, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing, is simply ludicrous.
People often complain about forest fires and wild animals coming into their yards in the Prescott area. It is common because Prescott is surrounded by forested hills and lands. We have reminded those people before, in this space, that we moved into that area - exposing ourselves to those risks.
The opposite is true, too: Letting the Mexican gray wolves roam across Arizona and New Mexico, rather than limiting them to the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico, puts the animals back where man resides.
Already, ranchers and wildlife officers are allowed to shoot them for killing livestock or trap them for roaming outside their designated range.
"There's a benefit to restoring a complex assembly of species on the landscape," said Sherry Barrett, Mexican gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Wolves are a unique part of the landscape, and it's important we restore the full assembly of wildlife back to the ecosystem."
However, wolves do not know fences. They will not know they are not allowed to cross I-40. And that ecosystem? The presence of wolves will not provide a missing "balance" for it.
Further, how much money are we spending on this reintroduction for the wolves to become targets or hazards on our roadways?
The first Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced into the Southwest in 1998. Now approximately 75 are roaming the wilds, with only three breeding pairs. The Arizona Game and Fish Department estimates that at least 37 wolves have been shot and 12 have been hit by vehicles.
This plan does not make sense.
The Fish and Wildlife Service admits it is starting work on a detailed study about the potential impacts of the territory expansion, including impacts on hunting, tourism and livestock.
Complete the study - adding in the wolves' impact on deer, antelope and elk - and let us know what you find; hold the decision until then.