Tips on Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Greetings, Wolfwatchers!  Here are some tips you will help you to write a more effective letter, and increase your chances of getting published:

HOW TO WRITE YOUR LETTER

  • Keep your letter to the maximum number of words allowed for the particular paper.  The shorter your letter is, the better chance you have of getting published. Some papers have a word counter in their submission form.  You can always type out your letter in a Word document first, which has an automatic word counter.
  • Be concise, make one or two points.  Don’t attempt to make too many points, this gets confusing.
  • Where you can, personalize the letter; tell a story.  i.e.  “I took my kids to the zoo and saw the endangered Mexican Gray wolves…”  “Wolves are important to me because….” Etc.
  • Thank the paper for publishing an article about wolves.  Praising the paper helps your letter get published.
  • If you feel uncertain about your letter, Janet will happily review it and make suggestions.  Send to janet@wolfwatcher.org.
  • Information on how to submit your letter can be found at the Letters to the Editor section of the paper.  Most have a submission form, some have you send an email.  Make sure to include your name, address, and phone number for verification.  Papers will not publish your street address or phone number, Some, but not all, papers will call you for verification before publishing your letter.
  • Submit your letter as soon as possible. This increases your chances of getting published.
  • If you can, please send Janet a copy of your letter for tracking purposes so that we can see what is being published.  Send your letter to janet@wolfwatcher.org.

TALKING POINTS

Every article is different, and will bring up some different aspects of wolves and wolf conservation for you to comment on and address.  But here is some good background information that can be used as talking points in many different letters.

  • More than 1,100 wolves have been killed through hunting and trapping in the Northern Rockies since Congress stripped them of Endangered Species Act protection in 2011.
  • It’s estimated that more than 560 have been killed this season alone, and that number continues to increase rapidly.
  • Across the Northern Rockies and beyond, anti-wolf extremists are gaining ground on their well-funded and relentless attack. Alarmingly, proposals are already being debated in Washington, D.C. to delist nearly all gray wolves across the Lower 48.
  • Wolves play a significant role in ecosystem health. They help keep large herd animal populations in check, which can benefit numerous other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, most notably other scavengers. Indeed, scientists are just beginning to understand the full positive ripple effects that large predators contribute in nature.
  • In the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions, the greatest threat to wolves is conflict with people. Though wolves pose very little threat to humans directly, they do occasionally prey on livestock and hundreds of wolves are killed each year in response. Others are hit by cars, illegally poached, or die of natural causes. And today, hundreds more are being killed during state-regulated wolf hunts.  These activities will have a serious impact on the ability of wolf populations—which have not yet fully recovered—to survive over the long term.
  • In Alaska, the state legislature, the Board of Game, and wolf-control supporters continue to advocate for intensive wolf-control programs to increase game populations, whether or not studies have determined that habitat is sufficient, or that decreasing wolves is necessary. For almost a decade, the most controversial aspect of these control programs has been aerial gunning, whereby private hunters, rather than state managers, are allowed to shoot and kill wolves from the air.
  • In New Mexico and Arizona, misconceptions and myths are the biggest problems for Mexican gray wolves, or lobos. Despite the facts that Mexican gray wolves are responsible for less than one percent of livestock deaths each year and have never attacked a person, they are often resented and feared in communities near the recovery area in southern Arizona and New Mexico. While a majority of people in those states support wolf recovery, illegal killings continue to be the leading cause of death for lobos. The small population of less than 70 individuals is also threatened by inbreeding, catastrophic events like diseases and fires, and by the lack of a scientifically sound plan for their expansion and recovery.
  • In North Carolina, red wolves, once considered extinct in the wild, now number around 100 individuals.  However, with these small numbers, the population is in constant danger of extinction from several factors, including illegal killings, habitat loss, natural disasters and interbreeding with coyotes. Several red wolves have been killed in recent months due to North Carolina allowing night time coyote hunts and red wolves being mistaken for coyotes.  Although there is currently a stay on the coyote hunt, red wolves continue to be shot and killed.
  • To recover red wolves, additional suitable habitat must be identified. The official recovery plan calls for the establishment of 220 red wolves in the wild and 330 individuals in captivity in at least three reintroduction projects within the historic range of the red wolf.

(Background information courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife).

More specific information will be sent out to volunteers from time to time for our “Letters to the Editor” Writing Team to write on a specific article.

And that’s “Letters to the Editor” for wolves!  If you have specific questions, please contact Janet at janet@wolfwatcher.org

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