Wolf centers have popped up all over the country in the last couple decades, ranging from official breeding centers for endangered species reintroduction programs to sanctuaries for wolves and wolf-dog hybrids some fool momentarily thought would make a neat pet. You’re also probably near a Mexican gray wolf, one of the country’s rarest mammals.
What are you doing for National Wolf Week? Ok, it’s a concocted “awareness” kind of holiday, but one I cheerfully endorse. I just got back from a trip to NM and AZ, visiting a ranching town that openly wants to get rid of its super, double-dare endangered Mexican gray wolves (only about 40 left in the wild and ranchers have shot at least 36) and camping in hopes of hearing or seeing one. (More on that trip in another post.)
They’ve been tied in a bureaucratic knot since their territory crosses state and national boundaries and encroaches on federal land ranchers have grown accustomed to grazing at a discount. The project has released only five new wolves since 2003 and none after 2008. Hunters or ranchers have shot 14 since 2003. The Wildlife Service just announced it wouldn’t release any again this year. So the captive population has grown to something like 300 or 400. There are so many in captivity now, there’s almost certainly one near you. Chicagoans have Brookfield Zoo; New Yorkers have the Wolf Conservation Center in Westchester; the California Wolf Center near Escondido; Columbus Zoo and just about every zoo in Texas and the southwest.
Like the wolves around Yellowstone, they’ve been the subject to a grind of lawsuits. Now Arizona hunters are pushing proposition 109, which would make what they call a sport a constitutional right. Does any other recreational activity get that kind of special treatment? I don’t even have a constitutional right to play baseball. The gist of the proposition is that it would take wildlife management out of the hands of pesky scientists and give it to politicians. Brilliant. So far, it’s likely to pass, according to this poll from AZCentral.
If this passes with the FWS be forced to retake control of the program, the way they agreed to when they settled a lawsuit with environmental groups? Will they just deem the new Arizona plan unacceptable–much like even the Bush administration viewed Wyoming’s wolf management plan of no holds barred hunting?
Learn More about Mexican Gray Wolves
Check out events at the Wolf Conservation Center
See What’s going on at Wolf Park in Indiana (they give wolves pumpkins for Halloween)
Where to go to See Wolves Near You