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home : features : features May 26, 2016

1/30/2013 6:00:00 AM
Wolf plan raises safety concerns

Don Martin
The Great Outdoors

It is always interesting when I get emails from folks who are concerned about issues that they think may be of interest to me as a sportsman and/or outdoors writer. Sometimes they are about issues that affect me personally, but most often I get them about issues that could adversely impact Mohave County or Arizona.

Recently, I got an email from a local rancher about a proposal by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to introduce wolves into northern Arizona.

This rancher is a livestock producer in Mohave County, and as such stays on top of these kinds of issues.

Then I got an inquiry from another source in the local livestock industry, and finally an email from Mohave County Board of Supervisor Chairman Gary Watson.

They were all interested in the wolf management proposal that the Fish and Wildlife Service had put out for comment. This 200-plus page document, currently in draft form, is titled "Environmental Assessment for the Implementation of a Southwestern Gray Wolf Management Plan for Portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas."

Wolves are just as much a danger to the state's wildlife as are bears, mountain lions and coyotes.

Wolves are proven predators of livestock and dogs, and there are a number of documented attacks on humans.

The proposal had sections that were downright alarming. Arizona was carved into three proposed wolf management areas along with what was deemed the "Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area," or MWEPA.

Extremely troublesome to me was that northern Mohave County was listed in Management Zone 1, while the southern part of the county was in the MWEPA.

Watson and I discussed our concerns. I promised to work with the conservation groups, while he said he was going to meet with the local Indian tribes, cattlemen and others interested about this wolf proposal.

Eventually, I spoke with Larry Riley of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, who explained that U.S. Fish and Wildlife had started this process because five Mexican gray wolves had been transplanted by the Mexican government into northern Mexico in 2011.

There was concern that these wolves might move out of Mexico and into the U.S. Plans needed to be made for managing them if, and/or when, they cross the border.

Even though all of those wolves died, more transplants have and continue to be made by the Mexican government in other areas of Mexico.

As Riley put it, "Having rules in place to deal with issues that could be caused by these wolves would just be another management tool in our tool belt for dealing with the problem."

Riley didn't really seem concerned. When I asked why, he replied that the Center for Biological Diversity out of Tucson has already filed suit against the wildlife service over this proposal.

So for now, the proposal may be moot.

But then again, do you always believe what the government tells you?

While I certainly have no issues with Larry Riley and Game and Fish, I sure do have reservations when it comes to some (but not all) federal agencies. And I am especially leery of the wildlife service.

Watson wrote a letter on behalf of Mohave County to the wildlife service about the proposal and demanded that Mohave County be kept in the process.

Personally, I am grateful for the way that Watson became quickly involved in this potentially disastrous issue.

In his letter, Watson refers to the potential negative interaction between the wolves and humans, livestock and wildlife.

I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to see wolves lurking in and around any of our cities or towns or anywhere else in Mohave County. Public safety is paramount here.

And I don't want to see wolves let loose on the landscape in any part of Mohave County to ravage wildlife and livestock.

(Contact Don Martin at

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Article comment by: Hualapai Dog

Wolves and coyotes don't bother domestic dogs unless their irresponsible owners let them run around loose. I believe there's already laws against this and I'm always happy to educate Fido about the laws of nature.

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Article comment by: Wiley Coyote

Wolves, cougars and jaguars are the only natural predators of us coyotes. They run us off and keep our populations in check much better than Dead Eye Don and his Merry Men in G&F helicopters, and they do this for free. They maintain huge territories that self regulate their own populations very effectively. They avoid humans and hardly ever cause harm to your overfed and afraid species. Since the entire beef industry is taxpayer subsidized and it causes far more damage to human health and the native wildlife populations than natural predators ever do, let them eat a few cows. Quit giving such huge property tax breaks and exclusive rights to public owned natural resources to a few ranchers and trophy hunters.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: Kathy Vickery

I don't want to see wolves introduced into Northern Arizona, because the next thing on the agender will be wolf hunting season. I don't like trophy hunting. God didn't put animals on earth for this reason. If you hunt, eat it. If you don't eat it, don't kill it. There were some animals put here to eat and some to balance nature. It should be a crime to kill an animal to just stick on your wall.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: jack a lope

yup, there aint no place for them wolves. they might kill a deer or antelope meant for my bow. I WILL NOT GO WITHOUT SO SOME

GALDERN coyote kin have it. I say we need to wipe out ALL them snakes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lines, bares and anything else that might kill somthin.

Dadgum where do these fools come from wanting to tinker with natecher. them wolves are just murders and will be stalking your babies, just you watch.

Donnie noes what he is talkin about, yall best be skeered!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

They did the same thing with Timber Wolves in Wisconsin. Now, they're reporting more and more human interaction with wolves and considering a hunting season in some counties.

They've lost their fear of man and will now kill dogs around their homes along with decreasing the deer population. Source: WI DNR.

How many wolves will they release in Mohave County? They are pack animals. The lone wolf doesn't have a great survival record.
Here, ranchers should be very concerned as wolves will quickly learn that calves will be easy pickings.

@T.O.: I could also say this sounds like just another democrat attack on small business to make it even more difficult to try to stay profitable and provide jobs.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: Justin Chambers

Just out of curiosity I searched wolf attacks on humans, this is all I came up with.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: Trained Observer

There have only been two documented cases of wolf attacks on humans in North America. One in AK and one in Canada. It would be great if you cited sources of your information. These were both thought to have been caused by wolves becoming too used to humans much like coyotes are here. It's really too bad you are not really a nature writer. Your columns seem to be more focused on spreading the gospel of the Republican agenda here than anything resembling objective reporting.

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