Mexican gray wolf, © Jim Clark/USFWS

Putting Politics Before Science Won’t Save the Lobo

With winter upon us and the days getting noticeably shorter, so too is the time left to speak out on behalf of Mexican gray wolves. Among the country’s most imperiled species, there are only about 75 lobos left in the wild. The ultimate fate of these iconic animals could be decided in the next year and, troublingly, it appears that the wolves’ best interests may not be the only factors at play.

A Mexican gray wolf pup howling. (Photo courtesy of the USFWS)

A Mexican gray wolf pup howling. (Photo courtesy of the USFWS)

Scientists agree that there are three things vital to successful wolf recovery – a comprehensive, science-based recovery plan; the release of more wolves into the wild; and at least two new core populations in the most suitable habitat areas in the Grand Canyon region and southern Utah/southern Colorado. But these recommendations are seemingly falling on deaf ears as the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) makes decisions about the lobos’ future management that ignore these basic findings. Worse still, the FWS may be engaging in some backroom dealing with states.

A letter from the director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to FWS Director Dan Ashe dated August 1st of this year suggests that in a discussion on July 23rd, state and federal officials came to certain agreements regarding the proposed rule changes for Mexican gray wolf management. Not only do the agreements alluded to in the letter imply that the FWS decisions on the wolf were made before due public process, but, what’s worse, they ensure that the lobos are not allowed to disperse outside of an arbitrarily drawn geographic region – which precludes them from reaching the suitable habitat necessary for recovery.

A member of the first pack of wolves released into the Apache National Forest. (© ADFG)

A member of the first pack of wolves released into the Apache National Forest. (© ADFG)

Perhaps if the FWS had taken a hard look at just how significant lobos are to the ecological health of the Southwest before having this private “discussion,” the conversation would have gone a little differently. The FWS proposal not only blatantly ignores best science, but also the opinions of the public. A recent poll conducted by Tulchin Research reveals overwhelming support for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. 87% of voters polled in both Arizona and New Mexico agree that wolves are a “vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage;” 8 in 10 of those polled agree that the FWS should make every effort to prevent extinction; 82% of Arizona respondents and 74% of New Mexico respondents agree there should be a science-based recovery plan; and over two-thirds of voters polled in both states agree with scientists who say there are too few wolves in Arizona and New Mexico and that we need to reintroduce two new populations of wolves in suitable habitat in the states.

If these numbers don’t make it clear to the FWS that Americans want to save the lobo, I don’t know what could.

Our nation is one that prides itself on both preserving the symbols of our character and on scientific innovation, so why is it so easy for the government to turn a blind eye to basic, sound science that tells us how to save one of America’s most iconic animals just to play politics instead?

Submit comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service here.

By Eva Sargent, Southwest Program Director

*This blog was originally published on Nov. 19 in High Country News.


25 Responses to “Putting Politics Before Science Won’t Save the Lobo”

  1. Linda Smigelski

    Please help save the lives of wolves!! They are so intelligent, beautiful and belong where they are.

  2. Ann yac

    I have tried to sign a petition but because I’m not in your area, the vote doesn’t count. Is there another nation petition or another site that would allow all of us outside your area, to sign.

    Please save the wolves!

  3. Renee LeClaire

    Wolves keep the balance. Obviously there are organizations, federal and private, that don’t like this. They want to be in control. My favorite show….Life After

  4. Jennifer Caires

    I am a firm believer that if you break something, you need to fix it. We are responsible for putting these animals on the brink of extinction and as of right now…it may not be too late to change this.

    We have disrupted the balance of things and it is up to us to fix it. SAVE THE WOLVES!

  5. Tim Cammers

    Typical Fish and Wildlife service for you and there politicians. I am stick and tired of government interfering with our wildlife. This is why I hate politicians and the fish and wildlife service! It is bad enough they try to run our lives now they think they can play god too. When will this crap end and my wolf brothers and sisters get there freedom back.

  6. dianre summerville

    Please save the wolves we all have a part in the circle of life, they are included. It is not our right to take them out of the circle. Only dumb people will do stupid things to destroy nature and the naturals of the earth’s well being. Thank you for listening.

  7. Connie Gutt

    It might not seem important to some people, but the lobos, the Mexican Gray Wolf, should be saved because of the ecological balance they bring to the areas that are natural to them. First the border fence blocks off their normal migration, it’s really sad. We love nature and all it’s creations. The good ranchers know this. Please save the beautiful and necessary lobos.

  8. Isabel M Fuica

    Please! Safe the wolves…they worthy of life and, our lives depend on them to maintain a healthy and necessary balance between species

  9. Pia Thurland

    Save the wolves! Ban hunting on the wolves…..especially trapping.
    Seems like alot of people hate and fear the wolf……how many people get killed by a wolf a year compared to car accidents???…..more education about wolves in schools…..we need the wolves…..and they were here first they have a right to be here!

  10. Roseanna Calloway

    Politics means money…big money.It seem that our government was somehow persuaded to take this crucial vote away from the people that pay the governments wages.Imagine that..we are paying to be oppressed.Yes the big money people like the Koch brothers cannot profit if they do not have access to all the land they want and need to use to further their profits.If these people can interfere with the Democratic process such as the people voting..then they are capable of anything.I’m beginning to think they secretly are promoting communism.Wolves belong where they are because it is the way nature intended it to be.Only sociopaths are for wolf hunting..just think of what they have in store for the humans that are in their way.

  11. brandon rowland

    We should all definately help and save the wolf like all animals they were here first. Such beautiful and amazing animals it would be a shame if they were gone.

  12. Aaron Yeatman

    It sickens me to hear such news, the existence of the Mexican Grey threatened by us, and what damage has been done to them, the Government refuses to help regenerate the population?! It is clear form the statistics and the results from the polls that the public do want Mexican Greys reintroduced yet the government turn a blind eye to this? Aren’t the government supposed to listen to it’s people?! It’s disgusting how they are toying with the existence of such a beautiful and majestic animal, and simply ‘passing off’ the strategies they have been given by scientists to aid the species.
    One thing that worries me though is that if they are reintroduced . . . then what’s to stop the locals going after them and hunting them for their pelts, and for trophies- all in the name of “protecting their cattle”?.

    Humans never fail to sicken me.
    Save the Wolf!!!

  13. Cindy Kreiner

    Only people without heart can condone or ignore the plight of these beautiful animals -with today’s technology, education is possible but slow and for the wolves their time is running out- a concerted effort is needed, let’s do it, let’s save the Wolf!

  14. Gina chronowicz

    Ann Yac – if you Google ‘Mexican Gray Wolf Petition’ several come up for you to sign if you live outside the area. x

  15. Mari Campbell

    We support science before politics so much so, that I wrote our 3rd book of our MaggieMooseTracks® fiction kid’s book series about the ‘prejudice against wolves’. The book is called: MaggieMooseTracks® Wolf Pack. It will be available mid-Dec 2013 on or find info on our website: We mention “Defenders of Wildlife” in our Acknowledgments. Kids & parents need to know that wolves are beautiful animals with strong social bonds and important to the ecosystem. Once they’re gone-they’re gone. People must act now. Blessings.

  16. Jacqueline Jacobelly

    Maybe those people in Fish and Wildlife who put the needs of special interest groups above welfare endangered animals and bringing the wolves back and who are undermining the return of wolves in other states should be fired. We need people in Fish and Wildlife who actually care about our enviroment and what the majority of the people want. The wolves are a vital part of nature. Much more important than the lined pockets of certain polititions, at least that is how appears to me the way the government in the states are acting as fast as they can to undermine all the efforts that went into bringing the wolves back, delisting them and immediately allowing uncontrolled hunting of them. Also I’m especially suspecious of how all the radioed collared wolves were targeted and shot first. Like certain parties wanted to sabatoge years of wolf research. Please let all the wolf species live and allow the return of the Mexican grey wolf. I want to hear the howling wolves in the wild someday, maybe sometime soon.

  17. Anita Lee

    As Founder of Lupus Outrage & Outreach, Non Profit, I want to relay to you that the current destruction of our symbol of strength and courage, the Wolf, will not be tolerated any-longer. And the hunting for sport must cease in our country. These animals had not yet recovered in the United States, yet, they are being allowed to be slaughtered needlessly! What is really behind these killings? The American people have clearly spoken time and time again against these killings, yet some law makers are allowing these killings to take place against the peoples will…Enough!

  18. Maryann Beavers

    When will the human race ever learn that might is not right? Just because certain groups hold the money or the power does not mean that we should be interfering with the nature by eliminating a species on purpose. We should be doing what can to protect it, especially since it is our fault that the species is on the brink of elimination in the first place. The wolves are an important part of our heritage and they are an important part to ecological systems and food change. Do something positive and protect the wolves.


    We need to save the wolves they are the most beautiful animals we need to protect them from harm.They are angels.…ann uk

  20. Scott Kindell

    Wolves have been around, as long as or possibly longer than humans; human kind doesn’t need to get rid of another species. They should be protected for the rest of time.

  21. Renita Crocker

    Wolves walked along side the Native Americans and you know they were some of the first “dogs” that befriended human’s..Hell why might have “god” put any animal on this earth….Because all balance out nature,,,,Swear all are due for some major, major “The Far Side” karma upon them. For all that know of “The Far Side” you all understand what kind of karma I’m talking of..

  22. wanda crocker lisbon

    Too many things have already been lost in nature already and we don’t need to loose anymore. Please do all you can to save the wolves. Our future generations to come may never be able to see one or know what one was only by reading about them in books or on the internet. Every time humans want to change or build onto virgin lands, they are disturbing the homes of our wildlife. I see if when they build new homes and the deer are killed on our roadsides along with the coyotes. We need to leave the parks and lands that are homes to our wildlife, like the wolves, alone and protect them. They can not do it themselves, so we have to do it for them. They are like our children and have no voices; we are their voices and we have to be there to save their homes for them for now and the years to come. PROTECT THEM AND THEIR LANDS!!!!!!!!!

  23. wanda crocker lisbon

    Stop the killing and hunting of these beautiful creatures!!!!

  24. Royce Fox

    To keep the ecosystem healthy, we need to keep the grey wolves on the endangred list. Without them, the elk population would grow beyond controll, causing america’s vegitation resources to run dry. I for one will refuse to allow it

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