December 21, 1997

Griz For Arizona

Associated Press

Endangered species

Amid the continuing controversy over a federal proposal to re-establish grizzly bears in central Idaho, an environmental group is urging that grizzlies be restored to wilderness along the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The proposal was made to the Fish and Wildlife Service this week just under the deadline for public comment on the central Idaho reintroduction plan.

Arizona ranchers, as their Idaho counterparts, have been among those opposing reintroduction of wolves, as well as discussions about bringing back grizzlies. The Idaho wolf program is in its third year; a similar program began in Arizona just this spring.

It was grazing that led to extinction of the grizzly in Arizona by the 1930s, and reintroduction of grizzlies probably would require elimination of some cattle ranching, some say.

Though an estimated 50,000 grizzlies once roamed from California to the Great Plains, they number under 700 today, mostly in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, authorities say.

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