Deseret News
Letter to the editor

Thank you for publishing the article, "Record number of Mexican gray wolves found dead in 2018." This seriously endangered species will disappear on our watch if something isn't done immediately to stop illegal killings of wolves.

As stated in the article, only 114 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild, and 17 were killed last year, five of them in November alone. On average, 55 percent of Mexican wolf deaths are from illegal killing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that a population of 320 Mexican wolves would represent full recovery, and we are nowhere near that number now.

The recent conviction of an Arizona man for the illegal killing of a Mexican wolf was the first conviction since 2011. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to get serious about pursuing illegal wolf killers.

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But increased education could stop these deaths before they happen. If this species is going to survive, we need to find more effective ways to promote and publicize the importance of natural predators to healthy ecosystems. When surveyed, 87 percent of Arizona and New Mexico residents believe that wolves are a "vital part of America's wilderness and national heritage."

Releasing wolf families into the wild, particularly bonded wolf pairs with cubs, will reduce the impact caused by the death of an individual wolf. And livestock producers should be encouraged to explore effective non-lethal means to protect their herds. It is possible to protect wolves and the livelihoods of local ranchers, and we must do everything possible to make it happen.

Laura Gelfand