For Immediate Release, March 27, 2007
Contact: Michael Robinson, (505) 313-7017
New Mexico Game and Fish Department Preventing Wolf Recovery:
Conservationists to Ask Game Commission to Reduce Predator Control
SILVER CITY, N.M.— As the New Mexico Game Commission prepares for its “Listening Session” on Mexican wolves at its March 28 meeting in Las Cruces, the Center for Biological Diversity admonished the state’s Department of Game and Fish for its complicity in the Bush administration’s subversion of wolf recovery.
“Governor Richardson has stated his support for wolf recovery and the Game Commission has formally echoed that support, but the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has passively agreed to the Bush administration’s excessive predator control practices, which are preventing wolf recovery,” stated Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Game and Fish is one of six agencies in charge of wolf reintroduction; the Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Oversight Committee also includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, USDA Wildlife Services, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and White Mountain Apache Tribe. The committee has initiated so much predator control that the Mexican wolf population is far below demographic projections (see casualty list below).
• Original government projection for Dec. 31, 2006: 102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs.
• Estimated population today: 57 wolves including 5 breeding pairs
• Wolves shot by government: 10
• Wolves accidentally killed as a result of removals: 20
• Wolves removed from the wild alive, permanently in captivity: 24
• Wolves with legs amputated as a result of trapping injuries: 2
• Wolves trapped and then re-released in adverse circumstances: uncounted dozens.
In April 2004 the Game Commission took public testimony in Silver City, where it overwhelmingly heard from citizens who wanted science-based management and greater protections for wolves. The commission endorsed Mexican wolf recovery and management consistent with recommendations of the 2001 Paquet Report, developed by an independent scientific panel.
The Department of Game and Fish has not succeeded in persuading the Fish and Wildlife Service to implement the scientists’ recommendations. In the meantime, the Department has given its assent through the wolf-management committee process to trapping and shooting wolves in New Mexico, including a wild-born wolf shot February 20th, 2007, which did not meet the criteria for being killed.
The Department of Game and Fish has also agreed within the committee to four recommendations for an upcoming Federal Register rule change to prevent Mexican wolf recovery from ever occurring:
• Capping the wolf population in the entire states of New Mexico and Arizona at 125 animals and allowing killing of any and all wolves above that number, with no scientific justification.
• Allowing wolf killing in broader circumstances than permitted at present (even before the reintroduction goals are reached, much less before there are 125 wolves).
• Not promulgating any regulations to require livestock owners on public lands to take any responsibility to remove or render inedible (as by lime, for example) livestock carcasses from non-wolf-killed stock, even though wolves become habituated from scavenging on cattle and horses, begin preying on stock and pay the consequences — contrary to the scientists’ recommendation.
• Expanding the “experimental, non-essential” area in which Mexican wolves lose their rights as an endangered species, and transferring the current predator-control-based management (which has resulted in a stagnant population in the Gila and Apache National Forests) to new areas where scientists have stated wolves will need greater, not lesser protections.
“The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has been subverting the Governor’s intent to recover wolves,” said Robinson, “and has taken its lead from George Bush’s trigger-happy Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Robinson added: “We will request the Game Commission to straighten out its faltering Department of Game and Fish to ensure recovery of the lobo.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, science-based nonprofit organization that works to protect endangered species and wild places throughout the world. The Center has more than 35,000 members and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.