For Immediate Release, January 3, 2008
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Conservationists Request Investigations of Reported Wolf Baiting
SILVER CITY, N.M.— Fifteen conservation groups wrote Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today requesting an independent inspector general investigation into a reported baiting of endangered Mexican gray wolves. The baiting scheme, in which vulnerable cattle were allegedly left near a wolf den, resulted in a rare wolf being shot by the federal government.
The letter to Kempthorne states in part: “The possibility that illegal take was perpetrated through abuse of government-provided telemetry radio receivers and through taking advantage of SOP 13, the rigid predator-control protocol applied to Mexican wolves, merits thorough investigation.”
Conservationists are also requesting a law enforcement investigation, retrieval of radio telemetry receivers that may be used to facilitate illegal baiting, and release back into the wild of trapped wolves that may also have been baited on the same ranch. In addition, in separate letters to the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the concerned groups request the cancellation of grazing permits.
According to the December 24, 2007 High Country News article that broke the wolf-baiting story, ranch employee Mike Miller “branded cattle less than a half-mile from the wolves’ den, the enticing aroma of seared flesh surely reaching the pack’s super-sensitive nostrils. Miller was, in essence, offering up a cow as a sacrifice.” In fact, the article quotes Miller as saying: "We would sacrifice a calf to get a third strike" — referring to depredations in the so-called “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” rule governing the Mexican wolves, formally known as SOP 13. Miller is quoted in a subsequent Albuquerque Journal article as denying that he made such an admission.
The conservationists’ letters specifically seek the following actions:
- A law enforcement investigation of the incident described in the magazine High Country News, along with prosecution if merited.
- An independent inspector general investigation of whether wolves were removed from the same ranch subsequent to the Fish and Wildlife Service learning about the alleged baiting, the granting of government telemetry receivers to the livestock industry and/or rogue county governments, and related questions.
- Cancellation of grazing and outfitting permits held by any person found to have baited wolves. (The foreign-owned ranch where the incident is alleged to have taken place holds multiple Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state grazing permits.)