While federal officials are trying to increase the genetic diversity of the fewer than 100 gray wolves living in the wild by introducing populations into their native habitat in Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, the state Department of Game and Fish has been working against the program, claiming that expanding the wolf population and territory was an interim measure and not a recovery plan.
Yakcich, whose family is from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, and includes uncles and cousins who still raise cattle, said he understands the perspective of ranchers. “It’s a tricky balance,” he said. “So we pray for the guidance to find that keen balance.”
As the story goes, a marauding wolf was preying on the people of Gubbio in what is now Italy. Francis ventured out to meet the wolf and learned the wolf was terrorizing people for no other reason than it was hungry. Francis negotiated peace, with the people agreeing to feed the wolf in exchange for being left alone.
Rev. Talitha Arnold of the United Church of Santa Fe said the message of coexistence applies today as well. “Our job is to care for all creatures,” she said.
A 4-month-old puppy named Spirit drew most of the attention of the crowd, including many eager to snap photos. Four-year-old Ghost was somewhat skittish and stayed in the wings. The animals were brought in by Colorado Wolf Adventures, a wolf sanctuary in Woodland Park, Colo.
Rev. Carol Calvert, associate pastor with the Church of Antioch at Santa Fe, and Rev. Catherine Volland of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church also gave blessings to the wolves.