For Immediate Release, June 10, 2011
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Governor Martinez Ends New Mexico’s Cooperation With Feds on Endangered Wolves
Move Undercuts Coexistence Efforts, Risks Increase in Wolf Predation on Cattle
LAS CRUCES, N.M.— Gov. Susana Martinez’s state game commission voted unanimously Thursday evening to stop cooperating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in reintroducing the endangered Mexican gray wolf, a project that began in 1998 with state participation from the outset.
NMDG&F have spent approximately 1.9 million on the Mexican wolf program. Usually with 2 employees and oversight along with multiple employees contributing time that is necessary to deal with depredations that are not mitigated whatsoever. Most of the money involved in the program is provided for and reimbursed by the FWS. So called coexistence efforts are paid for by a grant that goes into a wolf advocacy organization that instead should have gone into compensation programs. Also funded by FWS. This creates another pseudo layer of bureaucracy for people to suffer under it doesn’t allow coexistence to develop.
The vote disappointed a passionate crowd of about 100 wolf supporters who had rallied before the commission meeting and flouted the recommendations of 13 state and national conservation groups that had written to the governor to applaud the game department’s role in wolf recovery and suggest improvements.
Approximately 40 pro wolf protesters rallied at the farm and ranch heritage museums driveway Thursday morning. Each had their own car parked in the street so it looked like more, only about twenty thought it important enough to attend the meeting. While in contrast about 25 ranchers drove hundreds of miles and sat through the entire meeting to give testimony to the programs impact on their lives and families.
“New Mexico’s governor sided with an intransigent, wolf-hating livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Ironically, withdrawing state participation will undercut successful proactive efforts to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts, and could lead to an increase in livestock losses.”
Ranchers in both AZ and New Mexico have ceased reporting depredations and working with the FWS on the wolf issue so no we aren’t intransigent since we have changed our MO of relating both program and wolves completely. Since 2007 confirmed kills have been changed to read unconfirmed and wolves participating in multiple cattle kills have been left on the ground to continue killing season after season while wildlife managers wasted our lives and time with hundreds of thousands of dollars in meetings designed to give them but not us, job security. The ranchers had no choice but to stop participating in the program. Money spent going to meetings and working with the agencies was put to better use patrolling cattle and documenting kills FWS would not no longer document. Ranchers did begin working with NMSU to document scientifically the economic harm that was occurring.
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department has played important roles in reducing conflict over wolves, including helping keep calves from the immediate vicinity of the Dark Canyon Pack’s den in the Gila National Forest and providing food for the Middle Fork Pack (also in the Gila and led by a pair of three-legged alpha wolves) so that they would not resort to killing cattle. Last year, in large part due to game department efforts, wolves killed only nine cattle in New Mexico and Arizona.
The above statement is patently untrue. The Middle fork pack (6 legs between the alpha’s) alone contributed 18 kills to one ranch in 2009. Agency personnel attempted for months to haze them using the above techniques with absolutely no success. Multiple kills were also found in other areas of Catron county attributed to the San Mateo pack and unconfirmed in the dozens, that put a ranch out of business and cost one man his health and eventually his life. And in Arizona attributed to the Paradise pack another spree kill fest that went unmitigated. As to the claims that the Dark Canyon pack was kept from calves the fence built is still incomplete and incorrectly installed and like so much of the wolf program mitigation, doesn’t work.
Livestock-industry groups, which had repeatedly litigated and gone to Congress seeking to compel government shooting and trapping of wolves and end wolf releases, were furious that state wildlife biologists (with the support of former Gov. Bill Richardson) had persuaded the Fish and Wildlife Service not to destroy the Middle Fork and San Mateo wolf packs when they preyed on cattle in 2008 and 2009. Stock owners were indemnified for their losses;”
First, The center for biological diversity has spent far far more time in court suing the FWS and States over wolves than livestock groups ever have. They have spent millions in resources lobbying congress and state agencies to do their bidding.
Second, Congress is responsible for implementing only fiscally sound programs that benefit the American people.
Third, FWS were obligated through their own rule and the law to mitigate wolf kills, at the behest of 13 environmental organizations, they deliberately chose not to do so and have not done appropriately since 2008. This decision according to Robinson himself, was due to those millions non-government-organizations have spent turning their heads with the pseudo reality propaganda they paper their offices with every day.
Fourth, Economic losses are never fully indemnified see the below documentation based on actual losses in the area Robinson refers to. Data support below.
Using either scenario, the likely real value
of an animal lost ranges between $1,432
and $2,037 as compared to the fluctuating
market value ($605–$1,000) typically paid to
.ranchers through the existing compensation
Finally compensation no longer exists through the channels it did when the program began. About 2009/2010 Defenders of wildlife shut down the Baley fund to wolf damaged ranchers and stopped funding depredation reimbursement of any kind. This was due to the Government compensation program offered in the Omnubus spending bill and FSA’s emergercy livestock loss program compensating for wolf depredations. Unfortunately, the omnibus money is being used now to fund fish and game needs at a local level with very little actually going into wolf damage compensation instead it along with other funds are being funneled to those same self serving livestock wolf interdiction techniques that simply have been proven to be unworkable and do not stop or even slow depredation. FSA emergency compensation for wolf losses was almost immediately challenged by self same environmental organizations with the support of Dr. Tuggle FWS, to once again stiff ranchers for real losses and instead rely on only FWS endorsed confirmed kills,
Confirmation techniques have not improved since the beginning of the program although clearly it is the biggest weak point most in need of scientific update. Losing FSA support for known but unconfirmed kills was something that science certainly doesn’t support but was a convenient way to continue harming ranchers with wolves on their allotments.
“the wolves ceased killing stock and resumed preying on elk.”
The above statement is again, patently untrue. The ranches involved in the above ongoing and chronic depredation incidents ended up selling off their yearling livestock in order to stop the killing, only then when cattle were not present on the allotment or deeded land, did depredations cease and the wolves go back to preying on elk. The above statement is misleading.
At last count in January of this year, only 50 wolves, including just two breeding pairs, could be found in New Mexico and Arizona. Federal trapping and shooting of wolves suppressed their numbers and contributed to inbreeding, but from 2008 through the present wolves have been spared from official persecution, and the number of depredations on livestock decreased year-by-year as well.
For many years now, official counts do not include uncollared dispersed Mexican wolves. Due to the agencies dependency on winged flights and visuals of the animals they are counting all documented wolves have been either collared animals or with a collared animal. Ranchers report calling and reporting uncollared dispersed wolves in to report them with no official investigation or confirmation of the wolf involved. Often mistaken for coyotes, such animals have left the recovery area, still have territories within the area, or have been killed by hunters and people who didn’t expect to see them. The agency has consistently refused to verify wolf presence or find some methodology to use to count the dozens of dispersing wolf puppies their own agency says they have every spring.
“We are worried that without New Mexico biologists’ help, wolves will prey on untended cattle in the Gila National Forest, and the livestock industry that demanded withdrawal of the state from management will then demand the trapping and shooting of the hapless wolves,” said Robinson.
Of course there are untended cattle on open range livestock grazing allotments at night when wolves are most active. These are open legally permitted and compliant grazing allotments NOT WILDERNESS and more especially NOT A NATIONAL PARK. These allotments are set aside by congress for multiple use and economic production.
If the wolves are in the cattle killing them, it is, was, and continues to be the FWS’s legal responsibility to remove and or mitigate that depredation using affective measures, something they have not done since 2007. Mr. Robinson acts as if the livestock came in after the fact that the wolves were usurped this is not the case. The wolf program is repeatedly disenfranchising the ranching families in the Apache Sitgreaves forest and the Gila Forest.