News

News

Game panel delays decision on Mexican wolf appeal

Game panel delays decision on Mexican wolf appeal

 — The New Mexico Game Commission has delayed a decision on an appeal filed by federal officials who are seeking to release endangered Mexican gray wolves as part of recovery efforts in the Southwest.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initially sought three permits, including one to release a pair of wolves and their pups onto federal land in New Mexico and another allowing for up to 10 captive pups to be raised by foster wolves in the wild.
The requests were denied in June by the state game and fish director.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional deputy director, Joy Nicholopoulos, told commissioners during a meeting Thursday in Santa Fe that delaying releases could compromise the genetics of the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.

The commission is expected to take up the matter again next month.

 

Expanded NM cougar, bear hunting OK’d

By
UPDATED: Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 10:56 pm
PUBLISHED: Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm
SANTA FE — The state Game Commission on Thursday unanimously approved expanded hunting of bears and cougars — including cougar trapping on 9 million acres of state lands – over the fierce objections of critics who said the decision was rooted in politics, not science. The vote was followed by an outburst from some opponents in the packed meeting room, with cries of “Shame on you” and “You’re a disgrace” directed at commission members. The new rules, effective in the license year beginning in April 2016, allow a 26 percent increase in the number of bears that can be killed statewide each year by hunters, from 640 to 804. The per-hunter limit for shooting cougars in most areas of the state will double from two to four, although the statewide limit of about 750 will remain. lobo2 dryheatphotography 640x640The requirement to obtain permits to trap cougars on private land will be lifted. And for the first time – at the request of Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn – cougar leg-hold trapping and snaring will be allowed on the trust lands that are managed by the State Land Office. The trapping will be allowed annually from November through March.
 
The Game and Fish Commission today approved expanding cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico. The Game Commission said in a statement after the voice vote that the changes are “based on sound science and research,” relying on current estimates of population densities, how much habitat is available, and other research data. “The only thing we can truly rely on is the scientific data,” Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan said at the meeting. Ranching, farming and livestock groups endorsed the expanded hunting as a means of predator control, and hunting guides and outfitters backed the new rules as well. “The lion and bear populations, at least in my part of the state, are on the increase,” Ty Bays, a third-generation rancher from Silver City, told the commission. But critics of the new rules – most of the roughly 250 people at the meeting – questioned the validity of the research data the Game Commission relied on. And they said that even if the populations are up – for which they said there is no supportive data in the case of cougars – commissioners hadn’t provided any economic or ecological reasons to justify expanded hunting. “We don’t know how you get from ‘We have more’ … to ‘We need to kill more,’ ” said Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center.
 
Opponents said trapping is cruel and indiscriminate, with the potential of snagging unintended wildlife – including cougar kittens and nursing mothers – as well as humans and their dogs. And they said that although the new bear research data collected by the commission indicate there are more bears than previously thought, there was a 28 percent drop in the number of bears killed by hunters last year, with no accompanying decline in licenses. Members of the commission, who were appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, said they were inundated with thousands of emails from supporters and opponents of the rules change. Commissioner Bill Montoya said some critics apparently believe the Game Commission and the Department of Game and Fish want to destroy species. “Our intent is not to eliminate any species. … Our intent is to manage, correctly manage, with all the biological information we can put together,” Montoya said.
 
Opponents of the new rules who rallied before the meeting, however, said the Martinez administration is anti-predator and is catering to the livestock industry while ignoring the wishes of most New Mexicans. The commission “has chosen to blow off the conservation community,” said Dave Parsons, who coordinated the federal Mexican wolf recovery program for nine years. “The New Mexico Game Commission is pathetically political,” Parsons added. Commissioners on Thursday also heard an appeal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the commission’s earlier denial of permits for the federal agency to release more Mexican wolves this year as part of the ongoing recovery program. The commission could vote on the appeal next month. The department said it rejected the permit requests because the federal agency’s 1982 wolf recovery plan has not been updated. But Joy Nicholopoulos told the commission that a revised recovery plan “is not required to continue Mexican wolf recovery efforts in any state, including New Mexico.”
 
The federal agency will have a new recovery plan by the end of 2017, she said. In the meantime, it’s critical for the health of the wolf population – now at least 110 in Arizona and New Mexico – that genetic diversity be increased by releasing additional wolves from the captive population, she said. That includes a plan for “cross-fostering,” in which wolf pups less than two weeks old are taken from their captive, biological parents and placed in dens of wild wolves to be raised by wild parents. Nicholopoulos also said that if releases are curtailed, the federal Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility – where the wolves are being held – won’t have the pen space to take in problem wolves that have to be removed from the wild.

Conservationists sue to protect Mexican gray wolves

TUCSON, Ariz. — A group of conservation organizations has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its policies on Mexican gray wolves.

The Western Environmental Law Center filed the suit in Tucson this week on behalf of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and Friends of Animals.

 

The groups claim the federal government isn’t doing enough to protect Mexican wolves, an endangered species. They take issue with a final rule issued in January that caps the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 wolves, prevents wolves from colonizing in certain areas and allows more killing of the wolves by federal agents and private landowners.

A survey released in February showed 109 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, more than at any time since a reintroduction program began in 1998.

SF New Mexican

Lawsuit filed against U.S. over protections for rare wolf

A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday against U.S. wildlife officials arguing that the government’s management plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, one of the most imperiled mammals in North America, does not go far enough.

The Western Environmental Law Center filed the suit on behalf of several organizations in a federal Arizona court, alleging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans for the wolves violate the Endangered Species Act and other laws.

At issue is a final rule published in January that, while allowing more territory for the wolves to roam, also capped their population and provided more leeway to state wildlife agencies and others to kill the wolves to protect livestock as well as deer and elk herds prized by hunters.

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” attorney John Mellgren of the Western Environmental Law Center said in a statement. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment on the litigation.

The agency ruled that 300 to 325 Mexican wolves would be needed in the U.S. Southwest for the animals to be considered recovered and stripped of protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Conservationists counter that the revisions were still insufficient to guarantee a strong comeback and said a minimum of 750 were needed for the animal’s long-term survival.

The number of imperiled wolves found only in the American Southwest climbed to 109 in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive year that the population of Mexican gray wolves has risen by at least 10 percent.

But Bethany Cotton, the wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians who is among the plaintiffs in the case, said the increase was “not nearly fast enough.”

Wild Mexican wolves were believed to be all but extinct in the United States in 1998 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing the animal to its native range.

In Mexico, the animals are believed to have been extinct in the wild since the 1980s. In 2014, wildlife managers there announced the first litter of wolf pups to be born in the wild since then, local media said, following reintroduction programs.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Reuters

Wolves in Court Conservation Groups Sue Fish and Wildlife Service; arguing failure to protect endangered species

July 3, 2015, 8:40 am

A federal plan that’s supposed to help restore populations of endangered wolves doesn’t give the animals a fair chance for a real future, argues a new lawsuit filed by Western Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, Friends of Animals and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance against the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

One big issue in the litigation is just how many wolves there should be.

The feds have been working to revise the rules governing management of both gray wolves in the northern half of the country and Mexican wolves found in New Mexico and Arizona. In January, the service released a revised rule for Mexican wolves that expands the area wolves are allowed to occupy and the area they can initially be released from captivity. It also lists the Mexican wolf subspecies separate from the gray wolf for the first time for protections under the Endangered Species Act. The target population for Mexican wolves was increased from 100 to 300-325.

The rule allows for “take of” Mexican wolves to protect livestock and domestic dogs—as in, wolves can be shot if seen attacking either. Wolves can also be killed or removed to protect elk and deer from unacceptable impacts.

Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director for the service, said at the announcement that the increased area will allow a larger, more genetically diverse population to be established while providing “necessary management tools to address negative interactions.”

The coalition of conservation groups that has filed the lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service and its director, Daniel Ashe, also naming Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the United States Department of the Interior in the lawsuit, argues that the plan fails to give Mexican wolves a decent chance at recovery.

When the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 captive-bred Mexican wolves to New Mexico and Arizona in 1998, there were no Mexican wolves left in the US. In the 17 years that followed, wolves climbed slowly toward what was thought, when the plan for recovery was crafted in 1982, a goal so ambitious it might never be attained: 100 wild Mexican wolves in the US. The number of wolves in the recovered population crept slowly toward that number, hovering in the 40s and 50s for most of a decade, before finally reaching 109 in 2014.

A scientific panel convened around 2011 estimated a healthy, sustainable and genetically diverse population of wolves would be 750 wolves in three distinct population areas, connected by corridors. The Fish and Wildlife Service itself reported in 2012 that the struggle toward recovery in part stemmed from too few wolves having been released from captivity to reintroduce the wild population.

The population of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona is the world’s only wild population, the groups contend, and argue that as such, it deserves protection as an “essential experimental population,” rather than its current designation as “nonessential experimental population,” which allows for more flexibility in management.

“The problem with that is that there’s only one wild population, so losing the one wild population would mean there are no more wild ones,” Judy Calman, staff attorney with New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, tells SFR.

As relief, the lawsuit asks the Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the population as essential, acknowledging that if these Mexican wolves are eradicated, there will be none left in the world; use the best available science, which calls for higher population counts; and further provide for the conservation of the species.

“It doesn’t seem like recovery was really the objective,” Calman says. “It seems like a sort of political compromise among factions was the objective, and that’s just really not what Fish and Wildlife is charged with doing.”

The lawsuit was filed Thursday, July 2, in US District Court. Hearings will take place in Tucson.

Santa Fe Reporter

Subcategories

Search

NM Wild Supporters

NM Wild News

  • Taos News: The truth about the 'Protect the Pecos' campaign (2) +

    Printed in the Taos News, July 28, 2016 PDF of this Article There is an unfortunate impression by some that Read More
  • Diverse coalition praises effort to preserve special lands in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument +

    Legislation introduced by Sens. Udall and Heinrich would protect wilderness within the national monument Las Cruces, New Mexico (June 10, Read More
  • Wild Guide: Passport to New Mexico Wilderness +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         CONTACT: Tisha Broska, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.         New Mexico Wilderness Alliance releases comprehensive guide to the state’s wildlands Albuquerque, Read More
  • Taos News: Thanks to feds working to preserve wilderness areas +

    Published in the Taos News, May 6, 2016 An amendment added recently to a federal energy bill would create two Read More
  • Conservationists Intervene on Behalf of Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Efforts in New Mexico +

    Download the PDF   June 6, 2016Contacts:Defenders of Wildlife: Catalina Tresky (202) 772-0253, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Biological Diversity: Michael Robinson (575) Read More
  • Protect the Pecos Photo Contest +

    Protect the Pecos Photo Contest The contest is open May 1st through August 31st. The deadline is 5PM Mountain Time Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34
  • 35
  • 36
  • 37
  • 38
  • 39
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  • 46
  • 47
  • 48
  • 49
  • 50
  • 51
  • 52
  • 53
  • 54
  • 55
  • 56
  • 57
  • 58
  • 59
  • 60
  • 61
  • 62
  • 63
  • 64
  • 65
  • 66
  • 67
  • 68
  • 69
  • 70
  • 71
  • 72
  • 73
  • 74
  • 75
  • 76
  • 77
  • 78
  • 79
  • 80
  • 81
  • 82
  • 83
  • 84
  • 85
  • 86
  • 87
  • 88
  • 89
  • 90
  • 91
  • 92
  • 93
  • 94
  • 95
  • 96
  • 97
  • 98
  • 99
  • 100
  • 101
  • 102
  • 103
  • 104
  • 105
  • 106
  • 107
  • 108
  • 109
  • 110
  • 111
  • 112
  • 113
  • 114
  • 115
  • 116
  • 117
  • 118
  • 119
  • 120
  • 121
  • 122
  • 123
  • 124
  • 125
  • 126
  • 127
  • 128
  • 129
  • 130
  • 131
  • 132
  • 133
  • 134
  • 135
  • 136
  • 137
  • 138
  • 139
  • 140
  • 141
  • 142
  • 143
  • 144
  • 145
  • 146
  • 147
  • 148
  • 149