The Arizona Game and Fish Department will hold public meetings next week in Payson, Tucson and Pinetop to share information with constituents on two proposed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules dealing with Mexican wolf conservation, and how the public can provide comments to the Service.
The first federal rule proposes delisting the gray wolf from the federal list of threatened and endangered species but maintaining endangered status for the Mexican wolf. The second federal rule proposes expansion of the geographic boundaries of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as modification of the 10(j) rule for managing the experimental Mexican wolf population. Public comments to the Service on both proposed rules are due by Oct. 28, 2013.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the agency responsible under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for taking comments from the public regarding the two proposals, but the Service is not holding any public hearings in Arizona. It has only scheduled public hearings in three out-of-state locations: Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, Calif., on the first rule, and Albuquerque, N.M. on both rules.
“Since the Service has not scheduled any public hearings in our state, we feel it’s important for Arizona Game and Fish, as the state agency responsible for managing wildlife in Arizona, to meet with constituents so they are informed about these proposals and are aware of how they can provide formal comment to the Service,” said Jim deVos, assistant director for Game and Fish’s Wildlife Management Division. “The questions and input we hear at these meetings will also continue to inform us of the desires and concerns of our diverse constituency.”
The meetings will be held from 4-7 p.m. on the following dates:
- Monday, Sept. 23 — Payson, Greater Payson Moose Lodge, 4211 E. Highway 260, Star Valley.
- Tuesday, Sept. 24 — Tucson, Arizona Game and Fish Department Region 5 office, 555 N. Greasewood Road.
- Thursday, Sept. 26 — Pinetop, Arizona Game and Fish Department Region 1 office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd.
Each meeting will include a presentation at 4 p.m. that will be repeated at 5:30 p.m. There will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions or share comments after each presentation. Information will be provided on how to submit formal comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed rules.
Arizona Game and Fish also plans to post a video of the presentation on its website at www.azgfd.gov sometime the week of Sept. 23.
More information and links to submit comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are located on the Service’s website at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html and http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/index.cfm.
Logo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department