By RYAN HEINSIUS
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake has introduced a bill that would revamp the federal Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery plan. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it would give state and county governments more say in managing the endangered animals.
The bill would force more communication between federal wildlife officials and local groups. It would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft an updated plan. If the agency doesn’t comply, state wildlife officials would take over the program. The bill would impose limits on the animal’s range and population, and set a goal for removing them from the Endangered Species List.
Senator Flake says the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program especially impacts rural areas because of livestock and wildlife predation.
“We want to make sure that there is a proper collaboration with local governments, with officials, with stakeholders, ranchers and others, in that the federal government actually makes good on promises that were made before,” Flake says.
Environmental groups say the bill would be detrimental, and that state agencies have consistently put up barriers to the animal’s recovery.
There are at least 113 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, the highest number in the recovery program’s history.