Mary Katherine Ray
SIERRA CLUB News:
Another critical wildlife decision looms for Gov. Martinez’s Game Commission — will it do the right thing?
On Tuesday, the New Mexico Game Commission will decide whether to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release the endangered Mexican gray wolf in the wild in New Mexico in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is appealing to the commission because New Mexico Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval denied the agency’s permit.
The public is invited to rally at 8 a.m. before Tuesday’s commission meeting to support scientifically sound wildlife management and compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
There are only 53 lobos in the wild in New Mexico. The permit denial may not be legally binding because the releases are carried out to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act, and therefore the state does not have authority to block compliance with a federal law.
“Mexican wolves are protected by the state Wildlife Conservation Act as well. Conserving and protecting our carnivores is part of the mandate of the Game Commission,” said Mary Katherine Ray, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Wildlife chair.
Since the launch of the Rio Grande Chapter’s radio and online ad campaign, New Mexicans from all over the state and the ideological spectrum have urged Gov. Martinez to tell her appointed Game Commission to reverse its Aug. 27 decision to allow cougar-trapping and increased bear-killing.
“In the past year, the Game Commission has made survival more difficult for carnivores like bears, wolves and cougars,” Ray said. “But on Tuesday, commissioners could turn around a string of bad decisions by making the legal and scientifically sound choice to allow the release of lobos into the wild,” Ray said.
What: Pro-wildlife rally before Game Commission meeting
Where: Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place in Albuquerque
When: Rally to show support for our native carnivores begins at 8 a.m. / Game Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29
In May, the Game Commission denied the permit of the private Ladder Ranch to hold wolves, for no apparent reason, after granting itself the right to deny such appeals last year. The Ladder Ranch is also appealing its permit denial.
New Mexico Fish and Game Director Alexa Sandoval earlier this year denied the U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service a permit to release the endangered Mexican gray wolf into the wild in New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is appealing that decision.
On Aug. 27, the commission voted to approve the use of traps to kill cougars on private and state trust land, which encompasses more than 70 percent of land in New Mexico. The commission also voted to increase bag limits on bears by 26 percent.