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My Turn response to Arizona Republics Give Wolves a Chance dated June 4, 2013

The Mexican wolf reintroduction program has encountered its share of challenges, yet its disappointing to see that the recent Arizona Republic editorial, Give Wolves a Chance, neglects to include any mention of the programs positive accomplishments and omits basic facts that are important to understanding the milestones that have been achieved in the management of this experimental population. Most importantly and often demonstrated the Arizona Game and Fish Commission is committed to restoring a sustainable, wild population of Mexican wolves in Arizona. It is nave to believe that the needs of the public and multiple uses of the land dont figure into the equation. Arizona Game and Fish, working alongside other program partners, spends countless hours in the field working to make the program successful in balance with the other wildlife and with public land values and uses that Arizonans expect from their working landscapes. Many Arizona ranchers deserve credit for taking proactive measures to work with the department to further wolf recovery, but thats largely unrecognized -- most recently by the Republic, as well as by many in the environmental community. Ranchers use range riders, fencing fladry and telemetry equipment all of which is accounted for in Arizonas inventories to monitor wolves on the landscape, provide a human presence in those areas to deter wolflivestock interactions, and in some instances even move their livestock to avoid conflicts. Just as those who villainize wolves do a disservice to wolf conservation, those who villainize people who live on the land where wolves are conserved do a similar disservice. While the Republics editorial paints a picture of only 75 wolves left at the end of 2012, the public deserves to know that number represents a one year increase of 23 percent and the most Mexican wolves on the ground in the U.S. since the 1930s. One of the most important achievements of the program is that nearly 100 percent of the population is wildborn, and coexists with a host of uses on our public lands. Thats a factor considered critical to wolf recovery. Species recovery programs of this complexity dont happen overnight with the wave of a magic wand. Successes occur only after difficult, hands-on, boots-on-the-ground work. Arizonas wolf program is showing significant forward progress despite the controversies. We are literally learning each step of the way how we can achieve balance between wolf conservation and existing uses of our public lands. Why arent those positive achievements mentioned in the Republics editorial? J.W. Harris Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman