Pinetop Hearing: This week, Defenders and wolf supporters participated in the last of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) wolf hearings held across the Western U.S. regarding their proposal to strip federal protection for most gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states and change the rules for managing Mexican gray wolves.
The hearing was held in Pinetop, AZ. We were not surprised that the Pinetop event drew the largest anti-wolf audience of the hearings held so far, given its location. But fortunately, we carried with us the momentum and energy built up from the previous three hearings held in Sacramento, Denver and Albuquerque, which weighed heavily in our favor with respect to event attendance, testimony, and resulting press coverage.
Although several state and municipal-level elected officials, and state game departments spoke in favor of gray wolf delisting and for limiting the recovery of Mexican wolves, we met these folks “evenly on their own turf” in the words of Defenders staff who attended the event. In total, we counted 340 people at the hearing, hosted by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Twenty-eight testified in favor of continued federal protection and 36 testified to oppose federal regulation. One particularly compelling testimony came from a Havasupai elder wearing full ceremonial dress who spoke eloquently about the responsibility of the “two leggeds” to protect the “four leggeds;” his testimony in favor of protection certainly left an impact.
700,000 Comments Strong! In addition to testimony at public hearings, submitting comments is one way we can show USFWS what we really think!! The comment period for proposals relating to protections for the gray wolf and the Mexican wolf closes Dec. 17th and thanks to our supporters, they’ve already received 700,000 comments! One thing is certain, when USFWS makes its decision and takes into account public opinion on delisting, the weight of support is definitely on our side! A huge congratulations and thank you to all who submitted comments to USFWS! If you haven’t submitted your comments yet, go here to comment against delisting the gray wolf nationwide and here to speak for full, science-based recovery planning for Mexican gray wolves.
Audit of Wildlife Services Lethal Predator Control Program: This week we got news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General has confirmed an audit of Wildlife Services’ Predator Control program in 2014! USDA received over 73,000 requests for our members and supporters — and a few Congressional requests too — demanding an audit for this agency that quietly spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars eliminating over 100,000 native carnivores, including hundreds of wolves, each year. Credit goes to all of you who submitted letters demanding accountability for this Agency’s predator control program known for inefficient management, poor results and high costs. This is a big step in the right direction and Defenders hopes the audit will lead to reform of some of Wildlife Services’ egregious and wasteful practices. Stay tuned!
Tell Your Congressional Rep. to Sign Representatives Grijalva and Fitzpatrick’s Letter Endorsing Continued Protection of Gray Wolves! We are doing everything we can to show USFWS that the general public believes gray wolf recovery in the U.S. is not complete! We have another call to action and we need your help. Currently, members of Congress are circulating a letter to send to the Department of the Interior’s Secretary Jewell urging her to abandon plans to delist the gray wolf. Over 70 Congressional Representatives have signed the letter in favor of continued protection, but 75 have signed the letter in favor of delisting! We need more Congressional Representatives to sign this letter urging Secretary Jewell to keep gray wolves protected in the lower 48. Call your Congressional Representative (or locate your Representative here), and ask for their support on Representatives Grijalva and Fitzpatrick’s letter to Secretary Jewell immediately. The deadline for Representatives to sign on is December 10th. We’ve got to increase the Congressional support in favor of this letter and your voice matters. If they’ve already signed, make sure to thank them!