For Immediate Release, October 15, 2007
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Conservationists Applaud Governor Richardson’s
Proclamation of Wolf Awareness Week
Silver City, N.M.— New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has proclaimed Oct. 15 – 19 as Wolf Awareness Week. Meanwhile, the governor is encouraging efforts by the state Game Commission and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish “to promote healthy wolf populations in reasonable compatibility with our communities and land stewards in New Mexico.”
“Governor Richardson’s leadership in wolf conservation puts the State of New Mexico in line with the scientific consensus that the government must stop trapping and shooting wolves in order to recover them,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has worked to help the wolves. “Wolf Awareness Week will allow children and adults alike to learn more about the plight of the Mexican gray wolf. New Mexicans need to raise their voices in support of this endangered animal and demand real, science-based solutions to help wolves survive.”
The official three-year review of the Mexican wolf program known as the Paquet Report, authored by four independent scientists in 2001, supported allowing more wolves to survive in the wild. In June 2007, the esteemed American Society of Mammalogists also endorsed suspending predator control against wolves. Scientists agree on specific measures to offer more protection, and the governor’s recent actions reflect that consensus.
On July 7, 2007, Governor Richardson called for the immediate suspension of the arbitrary and punitive Mexican wolf predator-control policy known to insiders as “SOP 13,” approved in 2005 by an interagency group of which the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is one of six members. The policy requires the removal of wolves for depredations based on an arbitrary formula that does not take into account the wolf’s genetic value, any dependent pups, nor the total number of wolves remaining in the ecosystem. Richardson instructed the state game agency to advocate for changing the policy. It has not yet been revised.
But Bush administration agencies involved in wolf decision-making, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, which conducts predator control, oppose reforms. “Governor Richardson is fighting the entrenched bureaucracy that got the Mexican wolf into its current predicament in the first place,” said Robinson.
After the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2006, the federal agency announced a schedule for a process for changing the management rule for the Mexican wolf. As a first step, 12 public meetings are scheduled in late November and early December in New Mexico and Arizona.
“We can still save the Mexican wolf,” said Robinson. “But the rule-change process will be key. As long as one branch of government is releasing wolves into the wild, and another branch shoots them down from helicopters as a favor to livestock operators, our wolf policy will be self-defeating — a waste of both taxpayers’ money and animals’ lives. Wolf Awareness Week will help to get that message out.”