State lawmakers moved on two fronts Wednesday to let ranchers shoot the Mexican gray wolves being reintroduced to the Southwest despite their listing under federal law as endangered. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.
In one action the Senate approved legislation that allows a livestock operator or agent to kill a wolf on public lands in self-defense or the defense of others. The House separately approved a broader measure which extends that right to any animal engaged in killing, wounding or biting livestock. That move came over the objections of Rep. Victoria Steele.
“We nearly destroyed the buffalo many years ago. You probably have seen the pictures of carcasses of buffalo in the plains. We’re about to do this to the Mexican wolves,” Steele said.
Much of the debate concerns whether wolves, which were here until at least 1930, should be reintroduced to Arizona beyond a small area in the eastern part of the state. Sen. Gail Griffin said that would create problems.
“The prey base in Cochise County, if they expand it, are cattle, a few white tail, pets, and our children,” Griffin said.
One bill actually contains language saying the federal recovery program “introduces a brand new population of dangerous alpha-level predators and varmints into vast areas of land that have not seen wolves since the 1930s — wolves, the measure says, are “unpredictable and dangerous.”