Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

PHOTO BY WILDEARTH GUARDIANS

Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

It’s a critical time for recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves, so raise your voice to protect and defend lobos

Speak up for Wolves: Sign the Petition!

The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please sign the petition!

Tweet for Lobos! 

We’ve assembled nine ready-to-go tweets, complete with inspiring images and a link to the petition. All you have to do is “grab-n-go” to help raise awareness and make a big difference in the defense of the lobos! P.S. These work great on Facebook, too!

Tweet #1

#Wolves keep the Gila wild! Celebrate the 96th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico by urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gila’s most iconic resident—the critically endangered Mexican #wolf: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves #KeepItWild #StopExtinction


Tweet #2

Lobos are essential! Mexican gray #wolves are critical ecosystem influencers in the desert Southwest. They keep prey populations healthy and in balance, protect riparian and aquatic resources, and indicate the health of entire ecosystems. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #3

Humans are the largest obstacle to recovering Mexican #wolves. Along with illegal trapping, poaching and vehicular mortalities, politically motivated ‘recovery’ plans have put lobos in a precarious position. Take action to help get #wolf recovery right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves

Tweet #4

Real recovery for Mexican #wolves would include three distinct, but connected populations. Along with lobos‘ current range in the Greater Gila Bioregion, the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies are identified as prime habitat. Help make it happen: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #5

Mexican #wolves in the wild are, on average, as related as brothers and sisters. Though lobos numbers are slowly increasing, the greatest indicator of a successful #wolf recovery effort is the genetic health of the wild population. Support real recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #6

Recovery of wild Mexican gray #wolves is at a critical juncture as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft #wolf management rule for the Southwest. Help defend lobos! Submit your comment: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves Register for our webinar: https://guardiansaction.org/wolf-webinar



Tweet #7

To truly recover Mexican gray #wolves a new management rule should be based on the best available science and prioritize enhancing the genetic diversity of the wild lobo population. Raise your voice to make sure Mexican #wolf recovery is done right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #8

Did you know that the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is the most endangered gray #wolf in North America and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world? Tell the @USFWS we need a new management rule that will actually recover Mexican #wolves: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #9

Almost a century after Aldo Leopold shot a Mexican #wolf in the Gila, only 163 of these wolves exist in the wild. The fierce green fire he saw in the wolf’s eyes still flickers in the #wolves who roam the Greater Gila today. Help support full recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Amplify YOUR Voice for Wolves: Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to share your perspective and encourage others to speak up for lobos. It’s easy, fast, and effective—all you have to do is write your short perspective on why wolves deserve more protections and why the southwest needs more wolves. Be sure to mention that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on wolf management right now and comments can be submitted here: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolf

You can submit your letter to your local outlet, or if you are not from the region, submit it to a statewide outlet. Here are direct links to submission forms, note that different papers have different word count limits.

New Mexico

Arizona

LTE Talking Points: Here are key elements of a new lobo management rule that will help truly recover and restore Mexican wolves to their historic range. Please use these talking points as a guideline for drafting your individual LTE, but what’s most important is that your voice and your reason for wanting lobo recovery come through. So, please speak in your own words, but make sure to emphasis the fact that a new Mexican wolf management rule must achieve the following:

Release more wolves into the wild

  • Releasing adult wolf pairs with pups is the only way to help diversify the genetics of wild wolves.

Limit the removal of wild wolves

  • Wolf removal, whether for crossing arbitrary political boundaries or being accused of livestock depredation when ranchers are reckless, is unacceptable.

Protect lobos from poaching

  • Lobos’ greatest threat is human-caused mortality. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do better to protect wolves from illegal killings.

Reduce wolf-livestock conflict

  • Wolves are native carnivores highly adapted to the desert southwest. They should not bear the burden of livestock-wildlife conflict when non-native cows are grazing on public lands without protection.

Wolves need to be designated as “essential” to the recovery of the species in the wild

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in New Mexico

Rising temperatures associated with global warming have worsened drought conditions and intensified water shortages for the Navajo Nation in Thoreau, New Mexico, June 2019.

Getty/Spencer PlattRising temperatures associated with global warming have worsened drought conditions and intensified water shortages for the Navajo Nation in Thoreau, New Mexico, June 2019.

Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses to act to mitigate the effects of climate change—instead loosening requirements for polluters emitting the greenhouse gases that fuel the climate crisis. This dangerous agenda is affecting the lives of Americans across all 50 states.

Between 2017 and 2019, New Mexico experienced one drought and two severe storms.  The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Impacts of climate change

Extreme weather

Temperature

Impacts of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies

Climate

  • In March 2020, the Trump administration announced its final rule to overturn Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars. These weakened fuel standards will lead to higher greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions and will cost New Mexico residents $215 million
  • The Permian Basin—the largest oil- and gas-producing area in the United States, stretching across parts of New Mexico and Texas—was found to be emitting methane at three times the national rate. Methane is responsible for one-quarter of greenhouse gas-driven global warming. In August 2019, the Trump administration proposed rolling back methane limits at oil and gas operations like those in the Permian Basin.
  • The Trump administration is attempting to gut climate considerations from major infrastructure projects by eliminating the “cumulative impact” requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act. This is concerning because New Mexico’s economy relies heavily on its agriculture, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries—all of which are highly dependent on climate and weather conditions.
    • Agriculture: Agriculture and food processing accounted for more than $10 billion of New Mexico’s gross state product and supported more than 50,000 jobs in 2012.
    • Tourism: In 2018, tourism in New Mexico generated nearly $10 billion in economic impact and supported more than 94,000 jobs.
    • Outdoor recreation: The outdoor recreation industry in New Mexico generates 99,000 direct jobs and nearly $10 billion in consumer spending.

Air quality

  • Mercury emissions in New Mexico decreased by nearly 84 percent from 2011 to 2017, yet the Trump administration just undermined limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions that are allowed from power plants.

Arizona bans hunting contests for killing wildlife predators

Posted: 6:14 AM, Sep 05, 2019

https://www.kgun9.com/news/local-news/arizona-bans-hunting-contests-for-killing-wildlife-predators

Updated: 6:14 AM, Sep 05, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona has banned organized contests where hunters try to kill the most coyotes or other wildlife predators for prizes such as cash or hunting equipment.

The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council voted 6-0 Wednesday to approve a rule initiated by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The measure will take effect in 60 days.

The commission voted unanimously in June to ban contests that require registration and a fee and award prizes for killing the most coyotes or other fur-bearing animals or predators.

The Arizona ban doesn’t apply to lawful hunting of predators or other fur-bearing animals.

Wildlife-killing contests have drawn the ire of activists in recent years.

New Mexico banned the contests in April and several other states reportedly are considering similar rules or legislation.

Forest service revokes grazing permit, fines man who killed a wolf with a shovel

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By KSL.com Staff, KSL.com | Posted – Jul 11th, 2019 @ 12:16pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The southwest regional forester with the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to revoke a grazing permit from Craig Theissen in the Canyon del Buey area near Datil, New Mexico, in addition to fines charged by federal courts.

Thiessen originally pleaded guilty to the killing of a young Mexican wolf through intentionally trapping and bludgeoning it with a shovel in 2015 on public lands, according to Thiessen’s court documents, in which he pleaded guilty. In explanation, Thiessen said that he had caught the wolf in a leg hold trap on his grazing allotment and killed it because he was worried that if he didn’t hit it with the shovel it would kill him as soon as he released it.

“I knew the animal I caught in the leg hold trap was a Mexican gray wolf because it wore a tracking collar affixed to all Mexican gray wolves in the area,” Thiessen explained in the court documents. Further, he acknowledged that Mexican gray wolves are a threatened species.

The U.S. Forest Service has said that failing to comply with federal laws protecting wildlife, especially with those protected by the Endangered Species Act, gives the Southwest regional forester the authorization to revoke a person’s grazing permits, according to the press release. The case was submitted for review by Calvin N. Joyner, the regional forester.

Joyner gave his official decision on the appeal on July 2nd, deciding to revoke Theissen’s grazing permit. He added that this is a situation where the cancellation is appropriate, as Thiessen “admitted to taking an illegal action and violating federal law. He pleaded guilty and he was convicted by a federal court. His conviction is a violation of the grazing permit.”

Joyner added in his official decision that the Endangered Species Act states that criminal conviction under that statute should result in the immediate cancellation of a grazing permit.

“When ranchers violate federal law or break the terms of their grazing permits, the forest service is absolutely right to revoke their permission to graze on public land,” Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, said in the press release. “Mr. Thiessen’s actions violated one of our bedrock environmental laws, shocked and horrified members of the public who want to see wolves recovered, and dealt a blow to New Mexico’s wild [wolf] population.”

Theissen’s livestock will need to be removed from the Canyon del Buey area by the end of August.

New Mexico Is Divided Over The ‘Perfect Site’ To Store Nation’s Nuclear Waste

A 1,000-acre patch of southeast New Mexico desert may offer a temporary solution to the nation’s longstanding nuclear waste problem.

Nathan Rott/NPR

Thirty-five miles out of Carlsbad, in the pancake-flat desert of southeast New Mexico, there’s a patch of scrub-covered dirt that may offer a fix — albeit temporarily — to one of the nation’s most vexing and expensive environmental problems: What to do with our nuclear waste?

Despite more than 50 years of searching and billions of dollars spent, the federal government still hasn’t been able to identify a permanent repository for nuclear material. No state seems to want it.

So instead, dozens of states are stuck with it. More than 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, a still-radioactive byproduct of nuclear power generation, is spread across the country at power plants and sites in 35 states.

The issue has dogged politicians for decades. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently described the situation as a “logjam.” But some hope that this remote, rural corner of New Mexico may present a breakthrough.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a proposal by Holtec International, a private U.S.-based company, to build a massive consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel on that patch of desert. It could eventually hold up to 100,000 metric tons of the material, storing it until a permanent repository is found.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed interim nuclear storage facility in southeast New Mexico.

Courtesy of Holtec International

The bid has support from a group of local officials, drawn by the promise of tax revenues, high-paying jobs and a stable source of income.

The same appears to be true in Washington, D.C., where lawmakers are anxious to find a solution and have indicated an openness to change laws, making it easier for private companies to manage nuclear fuel.

But familiar challenges persist.

A broad coalition of local and national groups opposes the plan, as does the state’s new governor. They’re worried about transporting the nuclear waste and the environmental impacts of storing it.

“Why should we be the ones to take this negative project on and put up with the consequences?” says Rose Gardner, a florist who lives 35 miles from the proposed site. “We didn’t get any of the nuclear generated electricity. We’re not even involved.”

Rose Gardner, a vocal opponent of Holtec’s proposal, doesn’t see why her small, rural corner of New Mexico should take on the nation’s nuclear waste.

Nathan Rott/NPR

An expensive and expansive problem

The question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel has plagued the U.S. since before the nation’s first commercial nuclear power plant was even running.

In 1982 Congress got involved, passing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which called for the development of repositories for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel.

Five years later, it narrowed those efforts, focusing on a single area 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas: Yucca Mountain.

The federal government has spent billions of dollars assessing the viability of a deep underground storage facility there. For decades, Yucca looked like the destination for nuclear waste.

A map of current storage sites for high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in the U.S.

Department of Energy

But efforts to move that project forward were stifled by local opposition. Stuck at an impasse, and under pressure from then-Senate Majority Leader and Nevadan Harry Reid, the Obama administration scrapped funding for the site in 2009.

The Trump administration has called for funding to revive the Yucca Mountain project, but local resistance remains and Nevada lawmakers have dug in their heels.

In the meantime, spent nuclear fuel continues to build up at scores of power plants around the country, at facilities that weren’t designed to store it.

The problem with this is two-fold.

For one, it’s expensive. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act said that the Department of Energy would find a permanent home for utilities’ nuclear waste by 1998. It didn’t. So now, the Department of Energy pays utility companies more than $2 million a day to store that nuclear waste on-site. That’s taxpayer money.

The other problem is public safety.

More than 1 in 3 Americans lives within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, according to Columbia University. Many of those plants are now storing spent nuclear fuel on coastlines or near rivers, areas that are more prone to flooding and natural disasters.

The shuttered San Onofre power plant is one of California’s two nuclear power plants located near active earthquake faults. Spent nuclear fuel is being stored there currently.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

“There’s no question, from a safety perspective, from a risk perspective, from an economic perspective, consolidated interim storage makes a lot of sense,” says John Heaton, a former New Mexico state legislator who’s part of a group trying to bring the facility to the state. “We’re in a seismically stable, dry place. It’s more or less a perfect site.”

A “consent-based” approach

In 2010, fresh off its decision to end funding for Yucca Mountain, the Obama administration commissioned a blue ribbon panel to look at America’s nuclear waste problem.

One of its top recommendations was to authorize and establish consolidated interim storage facilities. But to avoid another-Yucca like impasse, it also recommended using a new “consent-based approach” when finding a location.

“We believe this type of approach can provide the flexibility and sustain the public trust and confidence needed to see controversial facilities through to completion,” the report said.

But figuring out how to define that consent, and then getting it from various communities, industries and interests, will be difficult.

Ranchers and dairy producers in New Mexico worryabout what impact the Holtec facility would have on their industry, real or perceived. There’s a fear that consumers wouldn’t want to buy beef or milk from a place that’s also home to the nation’s biggest collection of nuclear material.

There are also concerns from some in the region’s biggest industry: oil and gas. The proposed site is in the Permian Basin, one of the busiest oil fields in the world.

Drilling rigs and pump-jacks dot the desert of the Permian Basin, where Holtec is proposing to build the interim nuclear storage facility.

Nathan Rott/NPR

“I understand we have to solve this problem,” says Tommy Taylor, director of oil and gas development at Fasken Oil and Ranch, a Texas-based company with wells near the proposed site. “[But] don’t put this in an oil field. That’s a bad idea. Certainly not the biggest oil field the United States has.”

Taylor feels the same way about another proposed interim storage facility in the Permian Basin, near the Texas-New Mexico border. That proposal, by Texas-based Waste Control and Storage Services, is also being considered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“My specialty is drilling wells,” Taylor says. “We use the best technology we have, the best materials we can get, and the best tools. And even though you’re trying to do the best you can — still, things happen.”

The companies behind both proposals insist that the projects would be safe. Advocates for the Holtec proposal say that the amount of radiation coming off of one of the storage containers the company plans to use is about the same as a microwave.

“This isn’t some Homer Simpson green sludge that’s going to leak out and who know’s what’s going to happen, people with three-eyes and that sort of thing,” says Jason Shirley, a Carlsbad City Council member, who was skeptical himself before seeing a video of a Holtec storage container surviving a mock missile strike. “When I’m able to explain this and educate people, they support it.”

A “missile test” of Holtec’s storage canisters.

Nuclear Energy Institute via YouTube

“It won’t go.”

Thirty-five miles from the patch of desert Holtec wants to turn into an interim storage facility, and about 5 miles from a Texas company’s proposed site, is the boom-or-bust town of Eunice, N.M.

Pump-jacks bob among the houses, and the streets are jammed with traffic from the surrounding oil fields.

Down a quiet side street, Rose Gardner, an opponent of both proposals, is taking three grandchildren for a walk.

“We know it’s supposed to be consent-based,” she says. “They’re not getting consent. The actual people aren’t for it. And without community support, it won’t go.”

“I’ve got three little babies here and nobody’s speaking up for them,” says Rose Gardner, who’s worried about what the proposed facility would mean for her grandchildren’s future.

Nathan Rott/NPR

There is a history here, though, of nuclear projects that she’s well aware of.

Twenty years ago, nearby, the U.S. government built the country’s only deep-underground storage facility for radioactive material, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project. It’s designed to store lower-level nuclear waste from research laboratories and weapons facilities around the country.

A similar debate played out before the construction of that facility. Supporters touted the jobs and income it would bring. Opponents worried about safety. And there havebeen issues.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is mindful of those and is unequivocal in her feelings about Holtec’s proposal.

“There’s nobody that’s been able to demonstrate to me that there isn’t risk here,” she says. “There is risk. We need to be clear about that. I don’t think it’s the right decision for the state.”

Back at the proposed site for Holtec’s interim storage facility, a sign lies on its side, uprooted from the ground and punctured with bullet holes.

Asked if it should be seen as an indication of the plan’s local support, former state legislator John Heaton laughs.

“You know how it is in the Wild West,” he says. “People with guns can’t resist putting holes in any sign anywhere.”

A sign at the proposed interim nuclear storage site lies on its side and is riddled with bullet holes.

Nathan Rott/NPR

Indiscriminate Traps Harm Endangered Mexican Wolves

on February 15, 2019 – 9:47am

WEG News:

SANTA FE — As a bill to ban recreational and commercial trapping works its way through the New Mexico legislature, indiscriminate trapping is proving an enormous impediment for endangered Mexican gray wolves’ already uphill battle toward recovery.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that, since Nov. 2018, five lobos have fallen victim to traps in New Mexico. One of the wolves, female 1565 died in veterinary care. Another, male 1669 lost a leg. Male 1556 was treated and released but was later observed limping. Two other wolves were captured and released without injury.
New Mexico House Bill 366, called “Roxy’s Law” in honor of a dog who died in a trap on public lands in November, would prohibit traps across public lands in New Mexico with exemptions for human health and safety, ecosystem management, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish depredation trapping. In an 8-4 vote the bill passed the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee Saturday.
“Trapping take a tremendous toll on New Mexico—companion animals, native furbearers, and our most imperiled species pay the price for these indiscriminate killing devices,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Public lands and our desert ecosystems cannot bear this burden any longer and it’s time for our elected officials to take action.”
“We are grateful for the state legislature’s thoughtful consideration of House Bill 366 to strike a better balance among diverse interests on New Mexico’s public lands—toward improved public safety, animal welfare, and ecosystem health—that would protect endangered species from dangerous, indiscriminate traps,” said Jessica Johnson, chief legislative officer for Animal Protection Voters.
“Trapping serves no viable wildlife management purpose and is ethically indefensible,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “Body-gripping traps, which are inherently indiscriminate, pose a danger not only to pets, but also to threatened and endangered species including Mexican wolves.”
“Banning leghold traps on public lands will save the lives of all types of animals, including endangered Mexican wolves,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Traps are inhumane, sometimes fatal, and the smelly bait intended to attract coyotes is just as likely to draw curious wolves.”
“This is yet another chilling example of the grave threats lobos face, on top of an already dire genetic crisis,” said Kelly Nokes, shared Earth wildlife attorney at Western Environmental Law Center. “Mexican wolves are among our nation’s most critically imperiled species and they need proper protection if they are ever to recover as the law demands. Already threatened by an illegal management rule we’re challenging in court that banishes them from necessary habitat and caps their population at a number too low for recovery, lobos should not be further exposed to the lethal grip of indiscriminate traps strewn across New Mexico’s public lands –– the Mexican wolf population is simply too fragile as it is.”
The annual official count of wild Mexican wolves is ongoing currently. As of last February, there were 114 lobos in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona. The past year has seen a large number of Mexican wolf mortalities. During the 2017-2018 trapping season, at least four lobos were caught in traps. Two subsequently died.
Domestic dogs are also caught in traps on public lands. Along with Roxy, Ranger died from trap wounds this year. Kekoa lost a leg to a trap in December.
BACKGROUND:
TRAPPING
Trapping on public lands is legal in New Mexico. No bag limits exist for furbearer species. The law does not require trap locations to be marked, signed, or for any warnings to be present. No gross receipts tax is levied on fur and pelts sold by trappers. No penalties exist for trappers who unintentionally trap non-target species including endangered species, protected species, domestic animals, pets, humans, or livestock.
No database or official record is kept by any public entity and no requirement exists that trappers report when they have captured a dog in their traps. The pattern these incidents follow are usually similar; dogs screaming and frantically biting at the person desperately trying to rescue them. Veterinary and even human medical treatment along with associated expenses can result, as can long-lasting psychological trauma. Neither New Mexico Game and Fish nor trappers are liable for the damages that are caused by traps.
The true toll that trapping takes on native wildlife is difficult to know. Reporting requirements exist for some species, but not for often-trapped so-called “unprotected furbearers” like coyotes and skunks. The accuracy of reporting is unverifiable, and numbers do not adequately articulate the suffering and carnage that traps wreak on bobcats, foxes, critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves, coyotes, and other animals.
The almost singular excuse for the above-mentioned incidents is that trapping is necessary to control carnivore populations, but scientific studies do not support this assertion. In fact, scientific studies show that trapping and lethally removing carnivore species, like coyotes, often exacerbate conflicts such as those with livestock (see Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?, Randy Comeleo, Oregon Small Farm News, Vol. XIII No. 2, p. 2, (Spring 2018)).
The existence of trapping by a minuscule subset of the population using New Mexico’s public lands is in direct conflict with one of the state’s most valuable economic strengths: outdoor recreation. Highlighted by the recent New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Las Cruces, the outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico is a current and future boon—diversifying and stabilizing the state’s economy while creating 99,000 direct jobs in the process. Outdoor recreation includes hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, hunting, horseback riding, angling, trail running, and bicycling. This economy is not bolstered by piles of dead animals discarded by public roadways or by the thousands of wild animals taken from New Mexico’s diverse public landscapes for personal profit.
MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES
The lobo, or Mexican wolf, is the smallest, most genetically distinct, and one of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the Service has yet to implement scientifically recommended recovery actions.
Although lobos once widely roamed across the southwestern United States and Mexico, the Mexican wolf was purposefully eradicated from the U.S. on behalf of American livestock, hunting, and trapping interests. Recognizing the Mexican gray wolf’s extreme imperilment, the Service listed it on the federal endangered species list in 1976, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the Service has yet to take the actions science shows is necessary to restore the species.
In 1998, after the few remaining wolves were put into captivity in an attempt to save the species, the Service released 11 Mexican wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico now known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The program has limped along ever since, with illegal killings and sanctioned removals subverting recovery.
Mexican wolves are at tremendous risk due to their small population size, limited gene pool, threats from trapping, Wildlife Services’ activities, and illegal killings.

Charges filed in high-profile New Mexico trapping case

http://www.artesianews.com/1680131/charges-filed-in-high-profile-new-mexico-trapping-case.html

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico wildlife authorities say charges have been filed in a trapping case that is fueling this year’s debate among lawmakers over whether the practice should be banned on public lands.

The state Game and Fish Department announced Wednesday that while Marty Cordova had a valid license, he’s accused of running illegal trap lines that resulted in the unlawful harvest of wildlife and the death of a dog named Roxy.

The legislation named after Roxy is pending in the House. It’s sponsored by three Democrats from northern New Mexico.

Conservation officers served a search warrant at Cordova’s home in January and seized snares and foot-hold traps that weren’t properly marked. They also found bobcat pelts and skulls as well as fox, badger and ringtail pelts.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the 42-year-old Chimayo man had a lawyer.

Thanks to governor for battling climate change

Thanks to governor for battling climate change
Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

In an exciting stroke of the pen, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, adding New Mexico to the growing list of states pledging to embrace the necessary and ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (“On climate, Lujan Grisham starts to deliver,” Our View, Jan. 31). Surrounded by environmental advocates, young people from the Santa Fe-based Global Warming Express, and heads of state agencies, we were honored to stand near the governor as she specifically named methane capture as a focal point in the state’s effort to combat climate change.

Climate change is a big, complex issue that can be difficult to understand. Within this complicated issue, methane has been overlooked and action on it has been consistently delayed or even rolled back. Gov. Lujan Grisham understands this and her actions demonstrate the crucial role that methane capture will play in the fight against climate change. The impacts of climate change pose dramatic challenges for New Mexico, including fires, flooding, drought, health impacts, and dramatic shifts in our state’s climate that will cause cascading damages to the state’s ecosystems and cultural resources.

The most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the narrow 12-year window we have to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Because of its potency as a greenhouse gas, regulating methane emissions is one of the most promising ways to make dramatic short-term changes to the atmosphere that could be the difference between manageable climate impacts and disastrous ones.

We are proud to have a governor that is taking such decisive action, and we are proud to be part of the diverse coalition keeping climate change in the forefront of the state’s legislative agenda. Over the past couple of years, Climate Advocates/Voces Unidas, known as CAVU, has worked hard to inform a wide audience about the the impacts of methane emissions to New Mexico. Our Unearthed film series continues to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by oil and gas development in our state. By creating dialogue, we can work toward common sense solutions that protect our environment and move our economy forward. It is encouraging to see this work translate into policy.

On behalf of CAVU and the many organizations working to make New Mexico a leader in climate policy, we want to thank the governor for taking the lead with this executive order. As she said herself, “It’s up to us” to face this problem head on.

Twelve years will pass in the blink of an eye. For the sake of our children, we look forward to finding solutions to the most pressing issue of our time.

Jordan Vaughan Smith and David Smith are the founders of Climate Advocates/Voces Unidas. They live in Santa Fe.

Trapping bill highlights state’s urban-rural divide

  • Updated 
http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/legislature/trapping-bill-highlights-state-s-urban-rural-divide/article_98de3134-0ae0-51f4-9958-9a8cd3f54676.html

Mary Katherine Ray has seen traps up close.

One caught the leg of her dog Greta while they were hiking.

“I will never forget the sound of Greta’s screaming,” Ray told a New Mexico legislative committee on Thursday.

It was a story lawmakers heard over and over again — a story of beautiful days outdoors turned bloody by traps lurking in the brush.

Animal welfare advocates and others are renewing a yearslong effort to ban trapping on New Mexico public lands. And with House Bill 366, lawmakers are reigniting a visceral debate over the humane treatment of animals and deep-rooted traditions.

Critics argue that banning trapping on public land would not stop the sort of illegal trapping that usually spurs outrage.

Trappers legally are supposed to get a license from the state, mark their traps with an identifying number and abide by rules about where they can place their traps.

Banning the practice, ranchers say, would only deprive them of a method that is key to defending their cattle from predators such as coyotes.

“This bill is government overreach and hinders cattle growers from protecting their livestock,” said Randell Major, president of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association.

In turn, ranchers say banning the practice would amount to one more blow to a way of life many of them already view as under threat.

But proponents of the ban argue that trapping has been ineffective, pointing to the coyote’s spread across North America.

Neighboring Arizona and Colorado have banned trapping on public lands. And a range of groups, including hikers, birders, and search and rescue teams, have raised concerns about the dangers of allowing the practice in New Mexico.

“Wildlife management needs to advance in New Mexico. We’re not controlling coyotes with these methods,” said former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, chairman of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.

When the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee took testimony from the public about the issue Thursday, however, the biggest argument against trapping was simply that it is cruel.

In a packed hearing room, critics of trapping recounted stories like Ray’s of dogs or people caught in traps.

HB 366 has become known as Roxy’s Law, in honor of an 8-year-old heeler mix strangled in a trap last month at Santa Cruz Lake.

But perhaps more than any other bill in the Legislature this year, the proposal reveals the divide between urban and rural New Mexico.

Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, has convened groups from opposing sides of the issue during the past couple of years to try to forge some sort of consensus. He proposed a ban a couple of years ago that foundered in the Legislature, and he remembers how divisive the issue was. This year, he has Senate Bill 390, which would ensure the State Game Commission can address issues of trapping on public land.

But groups including Animal Protection Voters are rallying behind HB 366, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo, Christine Chandler of Los Alamos and Bobby Gonzales of Taos.

McQueen put forward a series of mostly technical changes when the bill received its first hearing Thursday, ensuring the law would not apply to corral traps, for example, to tribal governments or to spay-and-neuter programs that catch and release feral cats.

The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Saturday.

While the bill is likely to make it out of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, trapping bans have faltered in the Senate, leaving its outlook uncertain.

NM Land commissioner bans killing contests on state property

Prohibition impacts coyote killing contests on 9 million acres of state land

Many hunters abhor killing contests and the carcasses they leave behind. | Matt Grubs | Matt Grubs

Calling animal killing contests “brutal, barbaric and inhumane,” new State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard banned the practice on state trust land Thursday.

She made the prohibition by executive order, signed at a news conference.

“If you want to hold a contest to see who can accumulate the most coyote carcasses … from today forward, you will not be able to do that on state trust land,” Garcia Richard, who took office Jan. 1, said to a small group of staff and advocates.

Her office oversees more than 9 million surface acres of state trust land. Much of it is checkerboarded among private property and other government agencies, which will likely present a challenge for enforcing the ban. Garcia Richard said the office’s legal team can file action against those who violate the ban. She told reporters she’s also considered implementing a fee structure for hunters who are caught participating in the contests. Any new criminal penalities would likely have to be adopted by the state Legislature.

The ban impacts “unregulated” species like coyotes, and does not impact animals which hunters need a permit to pursue. Those hunters fall under the purview of the state Department of Game and Fish and its officers.

Animal advocates with Animal Protection Voters, Project Coyote, WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club and others applauded the order. Many members  stood behind the land commissioner as she made the announcement.

“She knows that healthy ecosystems and sustainable land use rely on robust interconnected wildlife populations,” said Jessica Johnson of Animal Protection Voters.

“This is not to say that NMSLO does not support hunters; hunters who hunt ethically, hunters who use practices that follow the law and include fair chase, hunters who use what they kill,” Garcia Richard said during the news conference. “This is not to say that our 3,000 agricultural lessees are going to be dissuaded from humanely combating depredation on their land to livestock and other companion animals. That’s not what today is about.”

Tiger Espinoza, vice president of the New Mexico chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, tells SFR the group has purposely avoided taking a stance on political issues like the contests.

“We don’t either support or not support this ban,” he says over the phone from Farmington. “I will say that Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife 100 percent supports predator control. And if that involves killing a few coyotes, then that’s what it involves.”

The lifelong hunter says there are “thousands upon thousands” of coyotes in the state and that sometimes the public misunderstands their place in the food chain. “People think that they are not little baby deer, fawn killers. In all reality they are. I have seen that with my own eyes. It’s not just mountain lions. I’ve seen coyotes take down a buck deer with my own eyes.”

Opponents of the contest agree with people like Espinoza, who says the events don’t put a dent in coyote populations.

“There is no documented scientific evidence that coyote killing contests permanently reduce coyote abundance, increase populations of deer or other game species, or prevent conflicts between predators, humans and livestock,” Dave Parsons of Project Coyote said in a statement Thursday.

The anti-contest group plans to hold screenings of “Killing Games: Wildlife in the Crosshairs” tonight in Las Cruces and Saturday afternoon at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Both shows have panel discussions planned after the film.

The order isn’t the first such ban on state trust lands. Former commissioners Ray Powell and Jim Baca also implemented such a prohibition during their terms.