Wildlife managers -- following the program's often punitive rules -- have contributed to the deaths of more than 25 wolves through shooting, trapping, sedating, penning and relocating the notoriously skittish animals.It goes on to describe why these "recovering" animals are being removed: to appease the livestock operators with public lands' allotments in the recovery area. But Benjamin Tuggle, the Southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, doesn't seem to understand the basic limits of the arrangement:
"You've got these diametrically opposed forces: This predator that has a right to be in this space, and the other is this prey base, cattle, that has a right to be in this space," he said.Um, yeah, except that the ranchers don't have any "rights" on these national forest lands. They are permitted to graze. Not entitled, not guaranteed. If Tuggle didn't know this already, he does now. Western Watersheds Project wrote him a letter, explaining his misconceptions and identifying ways out of the quagmire. Because, the thing is, if the US Fish and Wildlife Service keeps treating the ranchers like they own the place, the wolves don't stand a chance.