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Helping Hands for Wolves (interview with executive director)

Renee Blake/Beth Blakeman, Public News Service – NM
September 24, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Mexican gray wolf proponents say the animals do a lot of good for the environment. That’s one reason the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is acting to focus attention on this symbol of wild land.

Stephen Capra, executive director of the Alliance, says the wolf suffers due to longstanding myths, subsidized grazing on public lands, and politicians. The cattle growers pressure Republicans about the wolves and the Democrats have remained silent on the issue, Capra says.

“The vast majority of people in the state support wolves being re-introduced into the wild. However, ranchers are creating opposition to wolves in the wild. What they don’t want is a real discussion about the subsidies they’re receiving.”

Those subsidies allow their cattle to graze on public land at greatly reduced rates, Capra explains.

In an effort to raise money to promote education and understanding about wolves and how they balance the ecosystem, the Wilderness Alliance is presenting classical pianist and wolf supporter Helene Grimaud in concert in Santa Fe on Oct. 23. The funds raised will be shared with Grimaud’s Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, N.Y.

Only about 57 wolves live in the wild in New Mexico, Capra says, but some 300 more are in pens where they have been waiting to be released for the past four years. He adds that many New Mexicans support wolves but their voices are not being heard. The concert is part of an effort to get what Capra calls the “quiet majority” to speak up as one, in an orchestrated campaign.

“The passionate voice of this quiet majority has got to come out very loud. That’s when politicians are going to begin to listen. Up to now, they’ve just been hearing from a lot of ranchers. Wolves are like the ‘third rail’ of conservation: They don’t want to touch it.”

Capra says the wolves are an important part of the ecosystem in places like New Mexico and the Northern Rockies. He points to Yellowstone National Park as an example of how reintroducing wolves rebalances the ecosystem.

“Where streams were just denuded, we’re seeing willows now that are towering, which is helping fish, which is bringing more birds back. That’s what we need to see here in New Mexico. But you’re not going to do that when you have only 57 wolves.”

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe. Information is available at www.nmwild.org.

Listen to the audio.

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  2. Wolf politics raise hackles in U.S. West
  3. Impacts of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire: Wilderness Weekly June 7
  4. Two New Wolf Packs Established in NM
  5. Interview With Pianist Helene Grimaud on Wolf Conservation
  6. One Female Left: Wolves May Go Extinct in Michigan National Park
  7. Deer Populations Spiral Out of Control as Wolf and Bear Numbers Decline
  8. Mexican Gray Wolves To Be Reintroduced Into The Wild In Mexico
  9. First Gray Wolf Hunt in Decades Begins Tomorrow (2009)
  10. New Wyoming Wolf Management Plan Proposes Killing Half of States’ Wolves (2011)
  11. U.S. Congress Removes Wolves from Endangered Species List — A Legislative First (2011)
  12. Proposed Bill Would Allow Nationwide Elimination of Wolves (2011)
  13. Don’t Let The Fox Mountain Female Fall
  14. Good news!
  15. A step in the right direction for wolves
  16. Enthusiasts celebrate the anniversary of wolf reintroduction
  17. APNewsBreak: Plan lifts Lower 48 wolf protections
  18. New conservation plan would increase range, protections for imperiled Mexican gray wolves.
  19. A Message from Little Lobo
  20. Poll Shows Residents of NM and AZ Overwhelmingly Support Restoration of Mexican Gray Wolves in the Wild
  21. Mexican gray wolves another casualty of federal shutdown
  22. Citing livestock kills, wildlife managers look to capture 3 Mexican gray wolves in Arizona, NM
  23. NM Group: Mexican Gray Wolf Protections Not Enough
  24. Ranchers Insistence On Cheap Grazing Keeps Wolf Population In The Crosshairs
  25. Let’s Put the Wild Back Into Wilderness

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