\ SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #161 /
\ 11-21-98 /
\ SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY /
\ http://www.sw-center.org /
1. ANOTHER WOLF KILLED??
2. ARKANSAS RIVER SHINER PROTECTED UNDER THE E.S.A.-
SUIT FORCED AGENCY TO GIVE UP DELAY TACTICS
3. PROPOSED OIL LEASES THREATEN ALASKAN WILDLIFE-
SUIT WOULD DESIGNATE WATERFOWL PROTECTION AREA
4. STATES REFUSE TO SUPPLY WATER TO COLORADO DELTA-
ENVIROS RESIGN FROM RIVER "PLANNING" EFFORT
5. EDITORIAL: HUNT DOWN WOLF KILLERS
***** ***** *****
ANOTHER WOLF KILLED??
Unconfirmed rumors have it that another endangered Mexican
gray wolf has been shot, possibly in the White Mountains on
the Apache reservation.
Four of eleven original release wolves were shot. Four were
brought back in after leaving the recovery area. Prior to the
release of two females last week, only three wolves (all male)
remained in the wild. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the
Southwest Center, Defenders of Wildlife, author Michael Blake,
and a coalition of New Mexico environmental groups have offered
$35,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of
the wolf killers.
ARKANSAS RIVER SHINER PROTECTED UNDER THE E.S.A.-
SUIT FORCED AGENCY TO GIVE UP DELAY TACTICS
On 11-23-98, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the
Arkansas River shiner as a threatened species in New Mexico,
Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Formerly common along 3,000
miles of the Arkansas River Basin, the shiner has declined
precipitously due to water pumping and degradation. The
shiner has been driven from 80% of its historic range.
Populations remain only in portions of the Canadian and
Cimarron Rivers. An introduced population in the Pecos
River, outside the shiner's historic range, was not listed
under the ESA.
On 3-17-98, the Southwest Center and the Lone Star Chapter
of the Sierra Club filed suit against the Fish & Wildlife
Service to list the shiner. Hoping to avoid listing and the
major reforms in water policy that would follow, the agency
concocted a "conservation agreement" with the states of
Texas and Oklahoma. The agreement proved too weak, however,
to justify not listing the imperiled fish.
The Center and the Sierra Club were represented by Matt Kenna
of Kenna & Hickcox (Durango).
PROPOSED OIL LEASES THREATEN ALASKAN WILDLIFE-
SUIT SEEKS TO DESIGNATE WATERFOWL PROTECTION AREA
The Southwest Center, the Alaska Action Center, Common Roots,
and the Sitka Conservation Society notified the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service on 11-19-98, that we will legally challenge
the agency's refusal to designate critical habitat for the
Steller's and Spectacled eiders. Spectacled eiders declined
by 98% in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta since the 1970s and by
80% in Prudhoe Bay during the 1980s. Steller's eider has
completely disappear from western Alaska (including Yukon-
Kuskokwim Delta) and the eastern portion of the North Slope.
Though it listed both eiders as threatened species under the
ESA, the Fish and Wildlife Service refused to designated critical
habitat for either, claiming that little oil development is
expected within Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, a key
refuge for both birds. The Fish & Wildlife Service's own
overseer, however, the U.S. Department of Interior, recently
proposed to allow oil leasing in 87% of the Reserve. This
level of development could destroy hundreds of thousands of
acres of habitat for the two imperiled ducks.
STATES REFUSE TO SUPPLY WATER TO DELTA, GULF OF CALIFORNIA-
ENVIROS RESIGN FROM COLORADO RIVER "PLANNING" EFFORT
The Southwest Center and Defenders of Wildlife have resigned
from the steering committee of the Lower Colorado River Multi-
Species Conservation Plan. Claiming to provide habitat for
endangered wildlife, the plan is actually an end run around the
Endangered Species Act. It seeks to preserve existing water
pumping levels, maximize future withdrawals, and minimize
federal involvement on the Colorado River from Hoover Dam to
the Colorado River Delta.
The Southwest Center and Defenders quit when the steering
committee refused to endorse a study of the water and flooding
requirements of the Colorado River Delta marshes and forests,
and the fisheries of the northern Gulf of California. This would
require increased water flows to Mexico, and management of dams
to ensure seasonal flooding.
The following editorial in the Arizona Daily Star on 11-12-98
blasting the states for refusing to consider the ecological and
cultural impacts of U.S. water use on the people and wildlife of
the delta and the northern Gulf:
Myopia on the Colorado
A river is a single living thing - to heal its flow you must heal its delta.
Environmentalists are right therefore to be incensed that the steering
committee for an important effort to repair the much-abused Colorado River
has scuttled a plan to consider the needs of the river's dried-out Mexican
Until recently, the so-called Lower Colorado River Multi-Species
Conservation Program has been a promising bid by the federal government,
utilities and the states of Arizona, California and Nevada to revive river
ecosystems while still providing for the continued operation of necessary
dams and diversions.
The program began last year with the realization that the once-wild Colorado
has been turned by dams into a string of biologically impoverished
reservoirs since 1909. Through subsequent meetings, a sizable array of
stakeholders initiated the work of trying to craft a holistic, 50-year
scheme for protecting the species and resources of the Southwest's great
In keeping with that, it made perfect sense when environmentalists pushed
this summer for the project to address one of the most deplorable aspects of
the river's decline: the reduction by U.S. water withdrawals of the delta's
once-vast complex of marshes and bird-filled lagoons to a wasteland of salt
However, the program's steering committee has now rejected such inclusive
thinking and in the process thrown the entire river planning push into flux.
This the governing panel has done by nixing a sound approach worked out by
state water and power agencies and the conservationists in September.
Previously Tucson's Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and the
national Defenders of Wildlife had pressed to expand the formal scope of the
species program to include the delta, and to give Mexican parties
representation on the steering committee. Ultimately the environmentalists
compromised by settling with other parties for a simple study to identify
conservation ``needs and opportunities'' in the delta. But now the program's
steering committee has rejected even this tame initiative.
Such myopia makes no sense - and cries out for reconsideration.
Fairness by itself dictates concern for the Mexican reaches of the Colorado,
after 90 years of American heedlessness. So, too, does that principle that
demands land managers look to the good of whole ecosystems, not just local
fragments. In view of that, the species program's American leaders
absolutely must revisit a decision that calls into question the credibility
of their entire venture.
Without water and respect south of the border, the river cannot be a real
river. And without thought about that truth, the lower Colorado process
cannot itself be real. The steering committee should do the Mexico
EDITORIAL: HUNT DOWN WOLF KILLERS
The following editorial appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on
Hunt the Wolf Killers
No amount of public scorn can sufficiently shun the despicable behavior of
Arizona's nature-hating, gun-wielding fringe when it comes to the region's
beleaguered reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves.
Two more of the endangered lobos, released this year into Arizona forests,
have been shot to death, federal wildlife officials announced Tuesday.
Together, those shootings bring to a sickening four the number of wolves
killed unnecessarily by humans since 11 were released into the wilds
northeast of here in January.
Together, those shootings bring to a sickening four or maybe five the number
of wolves killed unnecessarily by humans since 11 were released into the
wilds northeast of here in January.
No doubt about it, the region's disgruntled, lawless primitives have a lot
to answer for in this embarrassing chapter. Absolutely illegal, their
cowardly shootings amount to acts of sabotage extraordinary in the history
of federal species reintroduction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is
absolutely right to vow an urgent investigation to catch the killers, who
are saboteurs now liable to up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
And yet, if the government is appropriately talking tough about senseless
law-breaking this week, the fact remains that its past bumbling and timidity
helped bring about this catastrophe - and now must be improved upon.
>From the beginning the Fish and Wildlife Service soft-pedaled this
controversial reintroduction: downplaying its difficulties, proceeding under
an ``experimental'' designation that allowed limited killing in defense of
livestock, muting talk about the legal consequences of sabotage.
Then, disastrously, the government ran away from prosecuting a Tucson mail
carrier who shot a wolf in April, pleading defense of his family when the
government's own investigation showed that the wolf had been shot broadside,
This decision, along with an absence of strong government warnings that
interference would be punished, may well have sent a tacit message of
leniency. That in turn may have emboldened creeps with guns to shoot
endangered species without fearing consequences.
And so all Arizonans should hope that the wildlife service's new tone of
resolve this week extends to its actions and into the future of this
It is good and overdue that regional director Nancy Kaufman is talking about
``hitting this investigation hard.'' So, too, is it proper that the service
has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to any wolf-killer's
conviction - a reward that is being supplemented by as much as $20,000 in
additional reward money from the Defenders of Wildlife, Tucson's Southwest
Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups.
But besides that, the agency needs to redouble its efforts and harden its
line in every respect as it presses forward the popular, ennobling and
overdue adventure of letting the wolves run free. The soft line has proven
too good for the worst of us. Now the times call for sharper eyes and
harsher stances as Arizonans struggle to make room for wolves.
Kierán Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.623.9797 fax
http://www.sw-center.org pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710