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Eastern Arizona Counties Organization contributes $25,000 to Range Rider Program

Posted June 18, 2021

SHOW LOW, Ariz. – The Eastern Arizona Counties Organization (EACO) has made a contribution of $25,000 for 2021 to support the Range Rider Program managed by the Arizona Interagency Field Team (IFT) of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Project.

Last year EACO made a $35,000 contribution toward the Range Rider Program, and depredations dropped 39% compared to the same time period the previous year, even though the Mexican wolf population grew. The end-of-year population count increased 14% from 163 in 2019 to 186 in 2020.

Range riders are people who spend time in areas where wolves and cattle are in proximity and chase wolves from the area. It is a way of proactively deterring conflict between wolves and livestock. The work occurs in much of eastern Arizona and is directed to areas where high levels of depredations are occurring.

“The Eastern Arizona Counties Organization has really stepped up in the effort to help reduce Mexican wolf depredations by providing, for a second straight year, a grant to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to support the Range Rider Program,” said Jim deVos, Mexican wolf coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Those who manage wolves on the ground have found that range riding is one of the more effective tools to reduce depredations, and the funding from EACO has been invaluable to the department in supporting additional range riders.”

Created in 1993, the EACO includes Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee and Navajo counties. The EACO counties have developed a leading role in natural resources and public lands management issues in eastern Arizona, including forest and watershed restoration, travel management and public land access, threatened and endangered species management, rural economic development, and recreation issues.

“EACO is pleased to provide this funding to AZGFD and the IFT,” said Jason Whiting, EACO chair. “Prior to this past year when funding was provided, the number of depredations over the previous two years had increased as the wolf population increased, and this was impacting the region’s ranchers. Wolf depredations usually peak in early summer and continue into the fall, so this funding for the Range Rider Program will be put on the ground now.”

More about EACO
EACO county supervisors provide leadership to the Natural Resources Working Group in the White Mountains, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), the Mexican Wolf Recovery & Management Team, the Mexican Spotted Owl Leadership Forum, among others, and work closely with local stakeholders and state and federal partners in all natural resources and public lands management issues in Eastern Arizona.