Arizonans will soon be able to weigh in on changes in the way gray wolves are classified for the endangered species list.
A subspecies of the wolf, the Mexican gray wolf, lives in the state, and it would remain protected, while other gray wolf species would be dropped form the list. On Dec. 3, Arizona residents will be able to attend the final public hearing to discuss the issue.
A meeting has already been held in New Mexico, where about 500 people turned out with a wide variety of opinions.
“There were a lot of people representing counties, (who) expressed their concern with whether or not there would be affects to the economic viability of the county,” said Sherry Barrett, Mexican wolf recovery coordinator at Fish and Wildlife Service. “We had several ranchers attend as well and give their perspective on the opposed rule on their businesses and their livelihoods. And then we had several members of the environmental community that expressed concerns on how this would effect the recovery of the Mexican wolf.”
Discussions include allowing the gray wolf to roam freely between Interstates 10 and 40 in Arizona and New Mexico.
The wolf’s primary habitat is currently limited to Arizona’s White Mountains, with secondary territory extending from there.