July 24, 2019

Save All Our Public Lands for Wild Horses and Burros?

Guest posting by John Koleszar – Arizona:

As an advocate for all wildlife, I found the recent furor over the horse situation in the Salt River Recreation area to be tremendously sad because of the lack of education of the general public. From State legislator Kelly Townsend to all of the horse lovers of America, the very idea of removing SOME of the horses from the Salt River area was akin to mass murder. The reality of the situation is that horses do some things very well and that is where the problem arises. They eat, they poop and the breed. Breeding is where the problem comes in. Left to their own devices, a herd can and does double in size every four years. (That tidbit comes from the BLM) While a beautiful animal, they have no real predators and if left without any removal they can and do become a huge problem.

There are very few items that I can agree with the Sierra club on, but when horses are the topic we are in lock step with our thoughts. The wild lands are for ALL animals, not just horses. Some people see cattle and point to them and say “Hey look at all those cattle out there”. In reality, the cattle are managed, are moved from pasture to pasture and then removed for human consumption. Deer, one of the other ungulates that consume the same type of food, have their numbers controlled each year through hunts, set by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. In Heber and Show Low areas the catastrophic fires of the last decade have brought huge numbers of horses from the White Mountain Apache Reservation onto forest lands. They compete with elk, deer, javelina and cattle for the same foods. All but the horses are controlled by hunts or cattle management. Do people want to see ONLY horses in the future? I really don’t think so. Aside from the emotional, heart wrenching scenes that most of the television talking heads seem to dwell on, there are some facts that everyone should have in order to make an informed decision.

Horses are not native to Arizona. They were brought here centuries ago and as man has utilized them, some were turned loose for any number of reasons. Burros have the same history. They were brought to Arizona as a tool to use for miners and as a farm animal. A quick trip to Lake Pleasant and then heading northwest will show that the areas are inundated with wild / feral burros. As a once-in-a-while scene, they are cute to see. Unfortunately, they have grown in herd size to the point that they are dramatically overpopulated. The Bureau of Land Management has statistics about how many animals SHOULD be in any area. They then figure out how many ACTUALLY are out there. It is called “Carrying Capacity.” Currently the wild / feral burro population in Arizona is at 400% of carrying capacity. That means there are 4 times too many burros as the land can hold. What is the solution?

Each year there are roundups of these wild animals. Many protesters watch and document how the animals are captured, and in some rare instances animals will suffer through the process. Fortunately, most are handled well and then brought to various areas across the Midwest in holding facilities. Those holding facilities are the place where people can go for adoptions and then have a horse / burro that they can call their own. Sadly, the number of adoptions is far outweighed by the number of animals that are brought into the holding facilities.

There are over 40,000 animals that are waiting to be adopted. How is all of this work paid for? Your tax dollars my friends. Last year the cost for handling all of the animals, covered under the Wild Horse & Burro Act, totaled over $70 million dollars. Each year the costs have gone up for maintaining all of these animals and the end is nowhere in sight. The Salt River horses are starting to become similar to the burros. They can and do destroy vegetation. They have a profound impact on the vegetation and the riparian areas. They are also 900 pound animals that do not understand roads, right of way and danger to human beings. Arizona, through the efforts of the Endangered Species Act and the Center for Biological Diversity, has more “Endangered” animals/ plants than any other state. Probably half of those endangered species can be found in the Salt River area. I must admit that I am surprised that the Center for Biological Diversity has not filed lawsuits to remove the horses because of the danger that they represent to the animals / plants that are in the area and under the ESA. They have made vast fortunes by filing lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. (We’ll visit that group at another time).

So, as we get down to the end of the trail here, we have thousands of horses and burros that cannot be left on public lands because they have outgrown / eaten their house and home. Are there any solutions? As repugnant as it is to Americans, the nation of China consumes over 1,700,000 horses each year as food. It is a staple of their diet in some regions. Horsemeat has been table fare for as long as horses have been around. Some European countries offer horsemeat at restaurants and even in Canada you can find restaurants in Quebec that offer horsemeat on their menus. The meat is tasty and low in calories (Not from personal experience here but from what I have heard and read). I am open to any other discussions regarding a solution, but inevitably as the bottom line gets higher and higher, more animals are going to be removed from the land in order that those remaining may have a better quality of life. With really no natural predators, the wild horses are consuming food that many other creatures could use to survive. Water is one key and forage is another. We simply do not have enough for ALL wildlife. As president of the Arizona Deer Association, we have helped place waters all across Arizona. I have never seen the Horse Lovers place a single water catchment anywhere in Arizona (They cost around $40,000 to build and establish). I understand the passion and love of an animal. I have it for horses as well, but I also love deer, elk and all wildlife. I will let the readers come to their own conclusions as to a solution, I just know there are options. JK

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Small family business says it’s intimidated by AutoZone 

AutoZone says the couple is using the word “zone” in its name. The company claims the Hamms can’t do that.”Do you think that’s right?” I asked. “No, of course not” Hamm replied.In the letter, AutoZone accuses this mom-and-pop business of trademark infringement. It claims consumers could confuse this family shop of being affiliated with AutoZone.As a result, the letter demands that the Hamms change the name of their business, so it does not contain the word “zone.”AutoZone also wants the Hamms to give up all of their website domain names and hand them over.”This is how we pay our bills,” William Hamm said. “This is how we raise our kids. We are a ma-and-pa shop. They’re attacking us. That’s how I feel.”

Source: Small family business says it’s intimidated by AutoZone – azfamily.com 3TV | Phoenix Breaking News, Weather, Sport

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Guest Column: Wolf expansion has ranchers worried about their livelihoods

Recent decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to expand the number of Mexican wolves and the area the wolves are allowed to roam, has Greenlee County ranchers extremely worried. Wolves will now be allowed to roam freely across all of Greenlee County and about two-thirds of both Arizona and New Mexico.

Source: Guest Column: Wolf expansion has ranchers worried about their livelihoods – Eastern Arizona Courier: Opinion

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Arizona Speaks Out Against Geo-Engineering Chemtrails

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Arizona files suit against federal officials over Mexican wolf recovery plan development

Press Release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona Attorney General

For immediate release, June 8, 2015

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Office of the Arizona Attorney General today filed suit against the secretary of the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for failing their statutory duty to develop an updated recovery plan to guide Mexican wolf recovery. The action was taken in an effort to spur development of an updated recovery plan for Mexican wolves that utilizes the best available science as legally required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This action was preceded in January with a Notice of Intent, which went unanswered by the Service.

“The Service is currently in litigation with special interest groups and settlement discussions could possibly occur without our knowledge or involvement, as has occurred in previous Mexican wolf lawsuits. As the state’s wildlife authority, we will not sit on the sidelines when it comes to decisions affecting Arizona’s wildlife,” said Robert Mansell, chair of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The Game and Fish Department has repeatedly requested an updated recovery plan from the Service over the past several years. The current recovery plan for Mexican wolves was developed in 1982 and fails to provide several of the key legal requirements. One of the key failings of the current recovery plan required by ESA is the identification of criteria required to downlist and delist this subspecies of wolves from the ESA. Without these criteria, it is impossible to ever remove Mexican wolves from endangered status.

“The State of Arizona and Game and Fish have long been committed to Mexican wolf recovery. However, we have reached a point where without a current recovery plan to provide a framework by which to operate and objective science-based goals to target, the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project we started in 1998 will be faced with unwarranted litigation with little regard for how biologically successful our efforts become,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is legally obligated to develop a thorough science-based plan that incorporates all of the elements needed for successful recovery, including the inclusion of Mexico and its core range, and criteria for down listing and delisting. Bi-national recovery plans for endangered species have been successfully established with Mexico for other species including Sonoran pronghorn, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and, most recently, thick-billed parrots.”

The department asserts that to succeed, Mexican wolf recovery must include an integrated, bi-national approach that incorporates the recovery work already underway in Mexico. Mexico holds 90 percent of the Mexican wolf’s core historic range.

“The federal government has failed to do its part to provide an updated Mexican wolf recovery plan, one that provides real world guidelines for measuring success,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “While long supporting a recovery for the Mexican wolf, we have a responsibility to insure Arizona has a seat at the negotiating table.”

The Service is currently in litigation with several parties that are pushing for reestablishment of Mexican wolves in areas that are not part of the subspecies’ historical range and requesting a resolution in an unreasonable timeframe. These groups are basing their litigation on a draft report developed by a Mexican Wolf Recovery Science and Planning Subgroup. The department completed extensive analysis of the subgroup’s recommendations and found the science used as a basis for the recommendations to be significantly flawed. This misguided approach could jeopardize genetic integrity of the subspecies if the Mexican wolf is permitted to reestablish in close proximity to Northern gray wolves.

Arizona Game and Fish’s involvement in Mexican wolf conservation began in the mid-1980s. Since that time, the department has spent more than $7 million on wolf recovery in the state and has been the predominant on-the-ground presence working to manage Mexican wolves.

For more information on Mexican wolves, visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf.

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Warning to Heber-Overgaard – Human-Wolf encounter in Section 31

Heber-Overgaard, AZ—On Tuesday April 7th, a couple who live in Section 31 went outside to walk their dog, a 2 ½ year old Kuvasz that weighs about 100 pounds. Just as they got out front, three wolves ran by within about 10 feet of them and then stopped on their corner. Two of the wolves “stared down” the couple and their dog while the third one disappeared.

“They were big,” the witness told me, who wishes to remain anonymous. “They must have weighed 120 pounds each. Their heads were really big-kind of reminded me of a Rottweiler with the blocky head. They were brownish-blackish-tan colored. We often have bears around here, but they don’t really scare me. I threw a rock at a bear last year when it was after our chickens and it ran off. But, these…they scared me.”

Source: Warning to Heber-Overgaard – Human-Wolf encounter in Section 31 | Mogollon Rim News

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Mexican wolves: growing problem in Southwest

Wolves are a predatory creature with primary food sources being large-hoofed mammals like elk, deer and, as ranchers see too often, cattle. The reintroduction of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico is of concern to ranchers as the pack numbers continue to increase…
Source: Mexican wolves: growing problem in Southwest

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Wolf expansion has ranchers worried about their livelihoods 

Recent decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to expand the number of Mexican wolves and the area the wolves are allowed to roam, has Greenlee County ranchers extremely worried. Wolves will now be allowed to roam freely across all of Greenlee County and about two-thirds of both Arizona and New Mexico.
Source: Guest Column: Wolf expansion has ranchers worried about their livelihoods – Eastern Arizona Courier: Opinion

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Ranchers in Catron County worry about wolf-coyote hybrids 

Folks in Catron County are worried about a new aggressive predator turning up their community: A wolf-coyote hybrid.
Source: Ranchers in Catron County worry about wolf-coyote hybrids | KOB.com

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Pair of Mexican wolves released into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

Press Release from the USFWS and Arizona Game and Fish:

PHOENIX — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) released a pair of Mexican wolves into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests yesterday.

The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) conducted a “soft release” of wolves M1130 and F1305 (F indicates female and M indicates male), meaning the wolves will be held in an enclosure until the animals chew through the fencing and self-release.

The female is the Rim Pack breeding female that was taken into captivity in January to be paired with M1130, a more genetically diverse male. M1130 was whelped at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and eventually moved to the Service’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico.

The wolf pair was observed breeding and biologists believe the female is pregnant. The pair was released near the Rim Pack’s old territory in Arizona on the Alpine Ranger District.

“The release of this genetically-diverse pair of Mexican wolves will help us build on our recent success of reaching a population milestone of more than 100 wolves in the American Southwest,” said Mike Rabe, nongame wildlife branch chief for Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The methods used for their release help ensure that these wolves acclimate and behave as wild wolves”

Both wolves underwent an acclimation process at Sevilleta to determine that they are suitable release candidates.

“Improving the genetics of the wild Mexican wolf population continues to be our priority,” said Benjamin Tuggle, Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest regional director. “Together this pair will improve the genetic profile of the current Mexican wolf population, ensuring long-term viability. The female, F1505, has experience living in the wild increasing the success rate for the pair’s survival.”

The “soft release” allows the pair to acclimate to their surroundings, and the IFT anticipates the wolves will begin utilizing the area around the release site. The IFT will provide supplemental food while the wolves learn to catch and kill native prey, such as deer and elk, on their own. The supplemental feeding will assist in anchoring the wolves to the area.

The 2014 Mexican wolf population survey results announced in February showed a minimum of 109 in the wild, up from 83 the previous year.

The Reintroduction Project partners are the Service, AZGFD, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, several participating counties in Arizona and the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization. For more information on Mexican wolves, visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf.

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