The Arizona Republic: Sen. Gail Griffin is targeting Mexican gray wolves

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

When Tea-Publicans aren't targeting actual Mexicans with anti-immigrant legislation, they are targeting Mexican gray wolves for extinction. The Arizona Republic in a editorial opinion writes today, Stop targeting wolves, senator:

LobomexicanoPause for a moment and savor this: The population of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico grew from 75 to 83 last year. That’s nearly double the 2009 count.

It’s a victory for our shared national values, which are expressed in the Endangered Species Act.

OK. Enough savoring. Now, back to a reality.

Lobos remain perilously close to extinction’s cliff, and Arizona’s Legislature is poised to give them a shove over the edge.

The Senate Government and Environment Committee approved three measures this week aimed at wolf reintroduction like a bullet to the brain.

SB 1211 would allow the Arizona Department of Agriculture or ranchers to kill wolves suspected of eating beef without fear of federal prosecution — an amnesty from federal law that Arizona lacks the authority to grant.

SB 1212 appropriates $250,000 from the general fund “for litigation expenses.” That’ll come in handy.

A resolution, SCR 1006, calls for shifting management of this endangered species from federal to state control and focusing reintroduction efforts on the mountains of Mexico. Because, of course, Arizona can dictate to the governments of two nations.

These measures are championed by Republican Sen. Gail Griffin. All passed the committee on party-line votes.

Instead of trying to undermine reintroduction that began in 1998, the focus should be on finding ways for wolves and public-land ranchers to co-exist.

Such a peace plan exists. Lawmakers heard about it at the hearing — right before voting to approve the anti-wolf, anti-federal government stuff.

Craig Miller of the Defenders of Wildlife told the committee his group is working with ranchers on a “payment for presence” plan that would compensate ranchers just for tolerating wolves on the land. That’s in addition to long-standing programs to compensate ranchers for cattle lost to wolves.

The reintroduction effort has been sensitive — some say overly sensitive — to the concerns of ranchers, and some ranchers accept that they don’t have exclusive rights to the public land they lease. Some remain viscerally opposed to wolves.

The narrow views of the anti-lobo ranchers are at the heart of this legislative assault. Testimony in favor of the measures included anecdotes dating to the first release of wolves 16 years ago as evidence of the need for legislative action. Times change, people. Let’s move on.

This legislative “fix” is ostensibly because ranchers can hunt down and kill bears or mountain lions they suspect of killing livestock, but they can’t do that with federally protected wolves. Of course not. Bears and lions are plentiful. Wolves are an endangered species.

Support for the legislation is couched in talk about protecting ranchers from the costly effects of a federal program. But the hard truth is these ranchers likely wouldn’t have ranches if they weren’t using federal land.

Blaming the federal government is an easy sell in this state. When it comes to the wolf-reintroduction program, it’s too easy.

We are all Americans, after all, and we all benefit from efforts to restore and preserve the magnificent wild places and creatures that enrich our state and our nation.

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