Federal officials have agreed not to try to capture and relocate wolves entering this state from Mexico. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been working on a wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico for years. And that plan allows the agency to capture and relocate those wolves who go outside the designated territory and prey on cattle. But two years ago, the Mexican government began its own wolf reintroduction program a few dozen miles south of the border. So, Fish and Wildlife unilaterally decided that if those wolves wander up here, they, too, can be captured if they pursue livestock.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said that's illegal under the Endangered Species Act. Robinson said, "the problem with this is that these wolves, under the law, are fully protected. And you can't simply sacrifice them under the law for special interests, in this case, the livestock industry."
The deal, signed Monday, gives any wandering wolves from Mexico protected status without fear of relocation. Robinson said he does not know how many of these wolves, if any, have found their way across the border. But, he said their presence could help our own wolf reintroduction efforts. He said the current population of 75 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are victims of inbreeding, resulting in small litters.