by Stephen Capra
The Commission of Evil
In a crowded room at the Santa Fe Community College last Thursday, we were witness to the latest failure of a commission designed to support and enhance wildlife in our state. The question before them was the continued use of Ted Turner’s ranch as a staging area for the release of the Mexican wolf.
This commission was clearly wary, after an earlier meeting in November on this subject; they found themselves shouted down by citizens, who were disgusted by the commission’s actions, and their determination to slaughter all wolves in our state. This time they took great strides to state that wolves were here to stay, that really the issue here was a technicality; one that their arcane system sadly could not support, but, hey, we can find a way forward at a later date.
Translation: we will defuse the situation now, and continue to obfuscate wolf recovery in every way possible. Our newest commissioner, Elizabeth Atkinson Ryan, an oil and gas attorney from Roswell and a member of the Safari Club ( a group that kills wildlife internationally for trophies,) made a long and grating explanation of why they could not change the Chairman’s decision to deny permit renewal for Turner’s Ladder Ranch. At times, other commissioners chimed in with their message that they supported wolves but “unfortunately” they could not support Turner, well because, they just could not break ranks with the Chairman, but hey, “we support wolves.”
This was met with ‘sardonic’ laughter from the audience, many of whom have witnessed the complete slaughter of wildlife at the hands of these seven republican cowards. Several minute later, they voted 7-0 to end the release program at Turner’s Ranch, while loudly inviting them to reapply and “meet this commission half way.”
The real question in all of this is clear: how much longer must we allow this commission to exist? How much longer can we allow the indiscriminate killing of wildlife to continue?
Aldo Leopold fought our Governors at the turn of the last century to allow the choice of the Game Warden to be controlled by sportsmen. After a bruising battle, he lost and the Governor continued to select Wardens; usually a perk to a major donor. Little has changed in the past century, only now we have a commission of seven people, none of whom have a real concept of biodiversity.
It is biodiversity that must be at the core of every decision; that is why the concept of a commission has long ago grown “archaic,” in Chairman Kienzle’s own words. We do not need a commission controlled by sportsmen, ranchers or oil and gas interests. We need an agency run by a director, that is given a clear mission: every action we take must be taken to enhance biodiversity.
Wolves in our state face one clear future if commissions such as this remain; there will be a hunting season and that is a disaster for wolves in the wild. There will be a trapping season on wolves and that is a moral outrage. There will be a continued spreading of ignorance and fear about an animal that is perfectly designed to enhance biodiversity and improve the natural balance of wildlife, while improving the land.
At Bold Visions Conservation, our mission for the past several years has been to disband this commission. Their actions and appointments are slaughtering wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes. They are not here to enhance wildlife, but to cater to special interests in the livestock, oil and gas and fringe farming communities. They speak of hunting as though it was a 365 day a year enterprise. They want our children to learn to kill, to trap and to carry the same disregard for animals that they display every meeting.
The saying goes you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. This commission represents nothing but pure evil. They are a group of political insiders that relish their role in the slaughter of innocent wildlife. There is no redemption, no reason to hope things will change, and we must simply end their reign of terror.
We must also work to change the charter of the State Game and Fish Department which currently is a rambling statement of support for off-road vehicles, shooting wild game, support trapping, etc. This mission needs to focus like a laser on one thing: enhancing biodiversity!
Disbandment and Game & Fish Department reform will not happen overnight, but if we are to truly help wildlife and improve our lands and waters, we cannot accept the status quo. We must create this change for the next generation; it is our gift and our moral imperative for our children and the generations to come: a gift and action of respect, to the animals that so enhance our lives.