04 September 2013 Polls Show Public Is Pro-wolf Posted by: Courtney Sexton | 6 comments | Share: Research reveals overwhelming support for Mexican gray wolves in NM and AZ, so what gives, FWS? Courtney Sexton, Communications Associate, Defenders of Wildlife While the Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) has been preparing paperwork to manage critically endangered Mexican gray wolves, the wolves themselves are running out of time for recovery and may be on the way to a second extinction in the wild. The Service has not only been ignoring the best science (even from scientists on its own recovery team) which points the way to the recovery of one of America’s most imperiled animals, but is also ignoring what recently released polling data show – that the public wants Mexican wolves restored to the wild. Captive Mexican gray wolf and pup (©Joel Sartore) Results from a poll conducted in the Southwest last month found that the vast majority of voters, 87% in both Arizona and New Mexico, believe the wolves are “a vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage” and strongly support efforts to restore Mexican gray wolves to this region where they once lived. Not only that, but 8 in 10 voters also agree that the Service should be making every effort to prevent extinction – which it is not currently doing. To the contrary, most parts of the Service’s proposed new rules for managing Mexican wolves would actually make recovery more difficult. Given that such a high percentage of voters recognized the vital cultural and ecological significance of the wolves, it is no surprise that, while the Service is engaged in a game of politics over science, political affiliation made little difference in support for Mexican gray wolf recovery. Support for Mexican gray wolves in the region crossed party lines, genders and ages, and more than 7 in 10 voters in Arizona and nearly as many in New Mexico say that wolves should be restored to suitable habitat in the Southwest. With the devastatingly low number of wolves in the wild, only about 75 remaining, new releases are critical to establishing three core populations and advancing the genetic health of the animals, which will help them recover. Over two-thirds (66% in AZ and 63% in NM) of voters agree with scientists that there are too few wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, and that we should reintroduce the two additional populations needed for recovery. Only about 75 Mexican gray wolves remain, and the public wants more. Mexican Gray Wolf, (c) Scott S. Warren / National Geographic Stock In fact, when asked, 81% of those polled Arizona and 73% of those in New Mexico supported the restoration of wolves in the two specific regions – the Grand Canyon ecoregion, and Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado – that scientists call the best areas of suitable habitat for these populations (a report published by Defenders this week also points to these same geographic regions). However, the Service’s proposal keeps the wolves boxed in to an area drawn by arbitrary lines on a map (which does not include those most suitable regions), and any wolves that leave that area will be trapped and returned. What good does it do to designate the wolves “endangered where found,” when they can’t be found anywhere but within a limited geographic box? Finally, the vast majority of participants (82% in AZ and 74% in NM) strongly advocated for a science-based recovery plan for wolves, which will be necessary for their survival. The Service knows the importance of such a plan, and yet it has not completed or implemented a new recovery plan in 31 years. Instead, it has been busy making back-door commitments to special interest groups, commitments that undercut best available science and, ultimately, the wolves’ chances for recovery. If the numbers I have highlighted here don’t make it clear to the Service that Americans want to save the lobo, I don’t know what does. Join Defenders in continuing to reiterate this message by submitting comments, or by meeting us in Albuquerque on October 4 at the only public hearing to address the fate of the Mexican gray wolf. 6 Responses to “Polls Show Public Is Pro-wolf” Jim September 4th, 2013 This is some great news! And some bad that they are only 75 remaining in the wild. Reply Jo September 4th, 2013 Thank you for all you do…I think wolves are closer to our own personality then people think…if only we would try to communicate…what is our problem.. Reply Andrew September 5th, 2013 How many are remaining in Mexico? Reply Amanda September 5th, 2013 FWS is completely unresponsive to the public’s preferences. I believe there is something very shady going on with this agency. They need a Congressional investigation. Reply Roxane September 29th, 2013 Thanks for this excellent blog post! The link to the ABQ event information doesn’t seem to be working. Until you get it fixed, people can find the event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/180386785478401/ Reply Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap Up Fish and Wildlife Service Holds Public Meetings to Determine Fate of Mexican Gray Wolves; Six Mexican Gray Wolves Released in New Mexico; How Do People Form Their Opinions About Wolves? A Field Day with Gopher Tortoises Our Florida staff members spent a field day at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve to learn more about the reproductive and burrowing habits of gopher tortoises. Wolves are even more socially complex than we thought… In order to survive, wolves form cooperative groups known as packs, and these pack members hunt together, rear pups together, and compete against other wolf packs for food and territory.