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Wildlife:
Mexican gray wolf; interstate compact

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SB1392
Sponsor: Allen, Griffin: Melvin, et al
Legislative Session: 2011 Legislative Session

Mexican gray wolf by Robin SilverSB1392 allows the governor to enter into an intrastate compact on wolves, but is clearly intended to promote removal of the wolves from the Endangered Species list, and contains many weak and ambiguous provisions.  Moving in this direction will ensure the second extinction in the wild of the Mexican gray wolf. 

Status

04/20/2011 - It passed out of the Senate 21-8-1, but was never heard in the House, so it is dead for this session.

Action Needed

To send an email to your senator, click on Protect Arizona's Endangered Wolves and other Wildlife.  You can also click on House to find your representatives' contact information, if you would prefer to call or send a separate email.

More information

 

Contact

Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

Background

The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America and the most endangered subspecies of gray wolf in the world.

Just 50 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild today in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. While their numbers have improved modestly in the last year, they are teetering on the brink of extinction.

Mexican gray wolves have adapted to life in the wild and have learned to hunt prey, formed packs, and done what wild wolves do.  Unfortunately, the severe restrictions on wolves and the lack of an updated recovery plan have hindered their ability to thrive.  Just recently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service began the effort to update the plan and convene a recovery team of scientists. 

The work to recovery this important predator is really in the early stages.  They need our help now more than ever – we should not take away their lifeline, the safety net that is the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Thanks to this important and popular law, we still have wolves in Arizona playing their role in ecosystem and we still have an opportunity to ensure that future generations of Arizonans will be able to see and hear wolves in the wild. 

SB1392 fails to incorporate the federal standards of the ESA requiring management decisions to promote the recovery of the species.  Instead it states the goal is establish “viable populations of gray wolves in locations compatible with human activity.”  Subordinating "viable" to "compatible with human activity" is no protection at all as it is far too vague. The term "viable" should be linked to an appropriate federal term with a track-record of interpretation in the courts.  At a minimum the term should be more clearly defined, and not just in relation to numerical "viability," but also to genetic viability and effective populations with a probability of remaining viable for a minimum, specified period.  Thus, while the language is clearly intended to sound “reasonable,” upon closer inspection it is actually a plan to lower the bar and avoid making management decisions based on the best science available, as is required by the ESA. 

Much of the language in the measure appears to be an invitation to a "race-to-the-bottom," in other words it effectively mandates the lowest common denominator of consensus approach to individual state endangered and threatened species legislation.  Ironically, the requirement for uniform penalties – civil as well as criminal – would have Arizona effectively surrender its own core sovereignty to define and punish offenses and limit its protection by adopting measures touted by other states. 

This bill is premature at best and at worst is a blatant attempt to promote a compact that conflicts with the U.S. Congress' determination that endangered and threatened species (and the habitats upon which they depend) require management at the national level and through science-based distinct population segments. 

Now is the time to redouble our efforts to protect and recover these important animals.  That is why we ask that you reject SB1392 and instead support strong protections for this endangered native wildlife species.
     
     

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