OVERGAARD, January 16, 2016—On Saturday morning, Jan. 16, 2016, Woody Cline of Young, AZ spoke to a gathering of over 100 people at the Rim Country Senior Center about the Mexican gray wolf regarding changes in the new 10 (j) rules adopted by US Fish and Wildlife. We appreciate Woody Cline, Karol Clark, Heber and Carrie Robbs for taking their time to travel to Heber-Overgaard.
Cline, who is a rancher from Young, AZ, said he was invited to a “Permittee” meeting on Aug. 20, 2015. There he learned an Environmental Impact Statement was done for Young and the Pleasant Valley area. US Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), who have been tasked with the Mexican gray wolf project recovery, disclosed they had eight proposed release sites around Young. Each release site would have a breeding male and female with pups.
After further discussion, the release sites were cut to three as it was determined the prey base was too marginal. The sites are within 10 to 12 miles from Young. A wolf is known to travel 250 miles within its territory. Arizona is 310 miles wide and 400 miles long. It shouldn’t take long before they show up in Payson, Tonto Basin, Globe, and should they dare, even in Scottsdale…
One question from the audience to Cline was, “What’s your motivation? Is it cows since you’re a rancher?”
Cline responded, “Honestly at first, yes, it was my cows. That is my livelihood. But, once I learned more about these wolves, I realized it’s a public safety issue and I’m working on my own time to let people know.”
Wolf proponents love to tell us wolves are more afraid of us than we are of them and that they don’t attack people. However, they have and they do. Cline reviewed past and recent wolf attacks in different parts of the world.
One of the arguments quoted by USFWS frequently in the media is the genetics pool is too small and they need to improve it by releasing more wolves. A comment by Cline on this matter was, “Ask any rancher…to improve genetics you must go outside of the gene pool.” Genetics will not improve by using animals from the same gene pool.
And about that original gene pool – According to Cline, the purity of the original Mexican gray wolf genes at the beginning of the experiment is suspect. It’s said the original captured wolves’ genes were too close for healthy offspring so they were cross bread with wild dogs. The original biologist, Roy McBride quit the project in protest. But the program pushed ahead by USFWS.
For a (1) wolf to survive it has to kill 7 to 19 elk or 80 deer each year. Wolves also have another effect on ungulate (elk, deer) populations because of the fear factor. When wolves chase the ungulates, pregnant females will abort their fetus once the chase is over. So the population is reduced not only from kills. It’s been said that Yellowstone’s ungulate population won’t be able to recover because they’ve gone beyond sustainability levels. That makes me sad. Hey environmental groups…aren’t you going to fight for them?
In Heber-Overgaard there are reported plans for proposed release pen sites nearby us but there’s not a lot known about them at this time. We already have wolf sightings reported on Chevelon and in Section 31. So, they are already here. But, the USFWS wants to release more in addition to what’s already here. Plus, don’t forget the planned releases in Young that are within an easy day’s journey.
Cline had another good point. Wolves are put in the pens until they chew through the fencing material to get out. In the meantime, a car pulls up and a human feeds them. When the animal gets out into the “wild” they relate the sound of cars and presence of humans with food. Not too good for the local human/pet population.
Cline said the wolf is being used as a tool by environmentalists to remove ranchers and hunters from public lands just as they got rid of loggers using the spotted owl. The wolf issue is a way to control the West by environmental activists. They used the same methodology in states to our north who now have out of control wolf populations at the expense of ungulate populations and a formerly robust big game hunting economy. Wolves still have to eat. What’s a hungry wolf to do?
Here’s another issue that should make you mad if you hunt and fish – hunters have paid fees for many years for licenses to the AZ Game & Fish Dept. which have helped to build a healthy ecosystem in Arizona. Now the federal government is going to drop an apex predator into our ecosystem, destroy all the game and you have nothing to say about it? Are you getting it yet?
So, what can we do to stop the unrelenting push by USFWS and the environmental activists’ sue and settle tactics? Start by using what’s immediately available:
- Get behind US Rep. Paul Gosar’s bill H.R. 2910, Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act which aim is termination of the USFWS final rule of Jan. 2016. You can read the text of the bill here.
- Go on Facebook and search People for Safe Neighborhoods which has a petition you can sign supporting H.R. 2910.
- Contact your representatives and tell them how you feel about the matter. Find them online at www.usa.gov/elected-officials.
- If you have a wolf sighting, take a picture if possible, and report it to me.
We need to band together to protect our community. Let’s do this!