KINGMAN – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released a draft on their proposed wolf recovery plan, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department is taking a hard look at it.
This comes after the AZGFD filed suit against the service in 2015.
AZGFD is saying that while the new draft “appears to address the substance of AZGFD’s lawsuit in 2015, department scientists are continuing to evaluate the plan in detail before submitting formal comments.” The deadline for the public and the department to respond is August 29.
One of the issues AZGFD is looking for is if the “plan recognizes Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico as the appropriate northern boundary for recovery encompassing all of the wolf’s historical range.”
The AZGFD has spent over $7 million on wolf recovery in Arizona in the past.
Jim DeVos is the department’s assistant director for wildlife management. DeVos stated, “The draft plan outlines criteria for formally delisting and downlisting the Mexican wolf as an endangered species, and (the plan) formally recognizes the key role Mexico plays in any recovery effort, given that 90 percent of the Mexican wolf historical habitat is within Mexico.”
DeVos noted, “We will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to ensure the success of wolf recovery efforts, in balance with other elements of the ecosystem, wildlife and the people who live, work and recreate on this landscape.”
Written comments to the USF&WS on the draft plan can be sent to http://www.regulations.gov and enter docket number FWS-R2-ES-2017-0036.
The draft plan can be viewed at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/MWRP.cfm.
There are also two public meetings on the wolf recovery plan this month in Arizona. The first meeting will be held from 6-9 p.m. July 18 at the Northern Arizona University Prochnow Auditorium and in Pinetop at the Hon-Dah Resorts Casino and Banquet Hall July 19.