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8/27/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman audience growls its disapproval of wolf reintroduction plan

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Bernie Lawrence.

KINGMAN - After four hours of comments, local ranchers, residents and government officials made it pretty clear Monday that the federal government needs to rethink its plan to expand the Mexican Gray Wolf population in Arizona.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors hosted the special public hearing to allow representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to explain the proposed expansion plan and give residents a chance to voice their concerns.

The Board has opposed expanding the wolves' range, saying it is a public safety issue that also exposes cattle ranchers to potential losses.

The federal government's plan would increase the amount of land the wolves are allowed to roam in Arizona and New Mexico from a small area at the border of the two states to a swath of land that stretches between Interstate 40 and Interstate 10.

The proposed plan increases the flexibility of the department to manage the wolves, said U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologist John Oakleaf.

"We know as things change there's going to be an impact to cattle," Oakleaf said.

A committee made up of environmentalists and cattle ranchers was created to manage a trust fund to reimburse ranchers for the loss of their livestock, he said.

John Cooley of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Pinetop Region, said that the state hasn't made a final decision on the plan.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission plans to discuss the Mexican gray wolf plan at its next meeting on Sept. 5 and is looking at all of the alternatives, he said. The department and commission realize that Arizona's wildlife and hunters will not be the only ones impacted by the decision on the wolves.

"We're responsible for sustaining multiple uses of public lands - ranching, hunting, recreation," Cooley said. "Any proposal must be able to sustain those uses as well."

The Board also invited several government officials from Greenlee and Apache counties to speak, since both counties have been impacted by the introduction of the wolves in their areas. The wolves were reintroduced to Greenlee County in 1998.

"We're experiencing experimentation without representation," said Pascal Belioux the executive director of the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization. "Local government has a constitutional right be involved in this. Eighty-five percent of the wolves' territory is not in the U.S., it's in Mexico. This is not an American issue, it's a Mexican issue."

No federal plan

Not all of the area designated for the expansion of the wolves' territory is suited to their survival, he said.

"I think the federal government should suspend this until it has a specific recovery plan," Belioux said.

Apache County Board of Supervisors Chair Barry Weller also criticized the current Mexican gray wolf plan.

Weller said he first heard of the program seven days after he took office in January, when the federal government introduced a wolf to his area. Having the county sign up as a cooperating agency on the project is a joke, he said.

"We had a public hearing with all the experts," he said. "The overwhelming input is wolves are a major problem in the area."

The federal government's idea that people shouldn't be able to shoot a wolf until the wolf population reaches about 100 makes no sense, Weller said.

"That's like saying you can't take action against a rapist in your house until there are a hundred rapists in your city," Weller said. "We (as local government officials) have a right to deal with the health and safety of our citizens. People have right to protect their private property."

Doyel Shamley, Apache County's national resources coordinator, agreed.

"You don't see the impacts to the families. I've talked to two ranchers who were never reimbursed for $140,000 in losses," he said.

One who did get reimbursed received enough money to cover 10 percent of the cost of feed for his cattle and then received a form so that he could declare the reimbursement as income on his taxes, Shamley said.

The federal government never alerted the county that wolves were moving into populated areas, Shamely said, despite several people reporting a wolf in their back yard or attacking their pets.

As evidence, he showed pictures of a dog and several carcasses of cattle that had been mauled by wolves. He also presented several photos of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removing a wolf from the back yard of a home.

Bus stop cages

"And in some rural areas, communities have built cages to protect their children at the bus stop," he said, showing a picture of what looked like a child's play house with chicken wire covering the windows.

It's only going to get worse as the federal government adds more animals and more regulations to the Endangered Species Act, Shamely said.

Navajo County Supervisor Sylvia Allen agreed. She said she's fought to change the Endangered Species Act since the Mexican Spotted Owl was added to the list in 1995.

The listing caused extensive damage to the timber and ranching industry in her county, including putting her brother of business, she said.

"If you're wondering why the economy is struggling it's because America no longer produces anything," Allen said. "We have an inalienable right to produce a life with the natural resources we've been given."

Larry Adams, a resident from Bullhead City, blasted the federal government for only giving residents four months to make a comment on the proposed project.

"These animals are not very adaptable to man. You're trying to force an issue and it's not fair to the animals or the people," he said.

State control

Kingman wildlife trapper Bernie Lawrence said after 50 years he is well aware of the damage that wolves, mountain lions and other predators can do.

"I would not recommend reintroducing them," he said. "If you want to live with them, live with them, but you're going to pay a price. It sounds pretty (to reintroduce them) to people who live in town who don't have to feed them."

Several local ranchers also spoke out against the project. Some said that the state should take control of all public land within the state's borders. Others said the money spent on the program should be used to feed starving children.

Another recommended tort reform to prevent environmental organizations from constantly suing the government. Several said the wolves should be shipped back to Mexico.

Residents have until Oct. 11 to submit comments on the wolf program to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Comments can be submitted at The docket number is FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@the fox hound

I just read the latest letter posted on this website, "On wolves, cooperation needed" submitted by a resident of Burbank CA, the free roaming wolf capital of America (sarcasm, off).

The letter has 5 comments, all against wolf reintroduction. You better rush over there and get yours in so you can add it to your "most of the people who wrote in to the Miner seemed to favor reintroducing the wolves" BS stats.


Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: Just Wondering

I wonder if this will effect the flow of illegals crossing the border? Or is that the reason they are trying to transplant them farther north?

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: reality Twentytwo

Wolves have never lived in harmony with people.....never! Put them in more areas so they can blame the locals for the non-success. These ranchers have a god given right not to live with wolves!

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

city folks seem to want them, country folks don't. why not just pen them up in the city and let the folks that want them to deal with them. Wild dogs will attack, part of their nature. Just can't see where this is a good idea.

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: David Shellenberger

Cages for children to protect them from wolves? This teaches children to believe the myths about wolves.What a foolish waste of money!

As to ranchers, they have to learn to use non-lethal means to protect livestock.

Wolves are an ecological, economic, and spiritual asset. It is time for people to welcome their restoration and protection.

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: Cristi Cofer-McReynolds

[Comment exceeded word limit.]

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ Ens. Nice
Glad you were able to get time off and express your views either Pro or Con. My point was that many people are not able to take off from their jobs, doctors appointments, treatments, etc to attend a meeting at 9:30 AM. Maybe they are a one car family and hubby/wifey had to be somewhere as well. Many other public comment meetings are held in the late afternoon/early evening...why was this one at a relatively inconvenient time for many?

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: Once Right

For ONCE Biker Randy ... I agree with you!

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: Bernice Martin

After reading much publicity on this issue, the county cannot base its decision on a few people with bad experiences. There are too many things in this world that can cause or do cause bodily harm to people, property, and animals. Do we ban each and every one of these things as well. Residents in Mohave County have to deal with coyotes and the wild dog population. I don't see people complaining to the county to remove the wild dogs or make sure they are vaccinated and fixed. I say reintroduce them. It will be nice to be part of the tradition to repopulate them.

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

V Strokes
If you cared enough about having wolves introduced into our area, you would have been at the meeting also, but evidently you think writing a letter to the editor will change the world.....
The people who were there were the people who are directly involved in the stupid idea of bringing in wolves and some actually took time off from me!

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

Meeting was Monday morning at 9:30 AM. Tell me who can take off from their jobs to show up. Hmmm ranchers, Gov officials, and Gov employees wouldn't have much problem would they? about the other 98% of the County?

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Fox Hound
You must not eat beef and prefer wolf. I will take the ranchers side every time on this issue.
The Ranchers have many government regulations the environmentalist have had imposed on them without the worry of a wolf eating the young calves......coyotes do enough damage.
Do you really want wolves or do you just hate ranchers????

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Laura Schneberger

Who cares what they wrote in from behind their computer screens. We care who attended the meeting and showed harm.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@the fox hound

"I find it interesting that most of the people who wrote in to the Miner seemed to favor reintroducing the wolves....."

I find it beyond "interesting" that you believed you would be able to lie so blatently and not have it be revealed. “Most of the people”? “Seemed to favor”? Liar, liar, pants on fire. LoL


“Fear mongering in Mohave County”
1 pro-wolf (by YOU)
2 not pro-wolf

“Wolves Bring Nothing But Trouble”
1 By YOU about ranching costs and no mention of wolves at all.
3 pro-wolf, including one by you
3 not pro-wolf
7 about coyote's, not wolves at all
6 that had no opinion, off topic, joke comments

“Wolves Important To Environment”
3 pro-wolf (one by you)
8 either no opinion, deleted, or off topic.

Wolf Story A Tall Tale?
3 pro wolf

Did you really think you would away with that total BS claim? You should know better by now. Oh, wait a minute, you're a leftist, you really don't know any better and you never will.

And you make it soooooo easy for me.


Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

I live in an area that would be impacted by this decision. I support scientific based wildlife regulations. Also, I was neutral about this until I read the guidelines for dealing with wolves. It is against my nature to let my animals die and not lift a finger to save them. Yes, that is a requirement.

Why not stick up for ranchers? I'm not one but while they can be reimbursed for losses, it can be very difficult to prove. e.g.: Yes, the wolf ate this carcass but how do you know the calf didn't die from an illness and the wolf was just scavenging it?

One Sunday, there was a plethora of letters from people all over the country. Obviously, a firemission from one of the elitist environmental groups. Once again, people who know nothing about the situation and who don't have to deal with the sequelae of wolf reintroduction, apparently received orders to try and ridicule people here who were opposed to it, making it look like those opposed to it were just a bunch of country bumpkins.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

Any time a decision is made both sides should be heard. Otherwise you only make a 1 sided decision. How is that not bias? As long as you are on the winning side, screw the other side?

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: David Gaither

@ The Fox Hound

It's rather interesting that you, a fox hound would be in favor of having wolves in the area. Wolves eat fox hounds!

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Just Wondering

Fox Hound, and those 20-30 people who wrote in,represent the majority? Especially the ones who don't live in Arizona? Were you at this hearing to voice your support of this plan? Was anyone there supporting the re-introduction of wolves in AZ? And yet, you blame the KDM for not printing what you want them to print.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Sorenson-Kapica

Mexican wolves are native to the southwest U.S. not just Mexico because they are called the Mexican Lobo. I have been involved with Grey Wolf recovery since 1993. Wolves are a natural predator which is needed to keep nature in balance. Introducing the Grey Wolves into Yellowstone was highly successful. My vote is for reintroducing the Mexican wolves to this area of Arizona.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Just Say-en

It's the wolves that should be afraid, very afraid. Everyone in Arizona is armed to the teeth. Oh, except that fella in Kingman that had all his gun stash stolen

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Don't be fooled

Public hearings are required by law. For the most part they only give the public a chance to vent while the Feds go ahead and do what they want anyway.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

I find it interesting that most of the people who wrote in to the Miner seemed to favor reintroducing the wolves yet you now print a story that makes one think that most people would be against it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Miner would take the ranchers side.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Just A. Citizen

I'm particularly curious about the rancher who lost $140K to wolves.
Did they get his IRA?
I find that figure dubious. Yeah, I know there's some prize bulls out there worth some serious dollars but.......

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