SPRINGERVILLE, AZ— An application to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey for a seat on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission was submitted today on behalf of the alpha female of the Panther Creek Pack of Mexican gray wolves. Named “Esperanza” (“hope” in Spanish) by school children when she was a pup, the applicant is a lifelong resident of Greenlee County and a fifth-generation Arizonan who avidly supports the right to hunt. The application was accompanied by testimonials from other wolves, including her offspring, and a letter of support from over a dozen conservation organizations long concerned about the commission’s anti-wolf record.
“Pro-wolf Arizonans have felt underrepresented by the current commission and their votes to limit Endangered Species Act protections for Mexican wolves,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “The Game and Fish Commission has consistently ignored the majority of Arizonans that want to see wolf populations recover and expand throughout the state.”
For the past two years Esperanza and her Panther Creek Pack fostered pups from captive wolves; the biological parents of the cross-fostered pups were not released with their offspring because of an Arizona Game and Fish Commission policy that has blocked adult releases. Esperanza raised these pups as her own and mentored them in subsistence survival, all the while knowing instinctively that her species’ survival depends on increased adult wolves being released from captivity.
“The Game and Fish Commision has repeatedly approved the reintroductions of non-native species or species outside of their ranges for the sole purpose of sport hunting or fishing and yet, when it comes to a native, endangered species in Arizona that needs the available habitat in the Grand Canyon region to be recovered, they push for an arbitrary boundary that would allow no wolves north of Interstate 40,” said Emily Renn, executive director of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.
“Having gotten to know the forests and meadows of the Panther Creek Pack’s home territory, and having sat through Arizona Game and Fish Commission meetings more times than I wish, I’m reluctant to subject Esperanza to the commission’s ugly politics,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Unfortunately, the future of Esperanza and her pack as well as other endangered lobos will be significantly affected by the anti-wolf agenda of the commission, so we need someone on the panel to counter it and to represent the pro-wolf majority.”
Conservationists tout Esperanza’s qualifications including her work as a hunting guide, excelling in her business despite healthy competition, and her history of volunteering on management hunts to limit excessive elk herbivory on sensitive riparian vegetation in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. She’s well informed about Arizona’s public lands and is passionate about game management issues.
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