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New Mexico Wild has been selected to be the beneficiary of Whole Foods Market's "Bring Your Own Bag" program. During the months of April, May, and June, bring your reusable shopping bag to Whole Foods Markets in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. For each bag, 10 cents will go to New Mexico Wild! Thanks to Whole Foods Markets for this very special fundraising event.

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Wolf Victory April 2018

For immediate release April 2, 2018

Court rejects flawed Mexican wolf management rule

Capping population, killing more wolves, cutting off habitat undermines recovery

TUCSON—Today, a judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to go back to the drawing board on its deeply flawed 2015 Mexican wolf management rule. The court rejected the Service’s distortion of science to fit the political goals of increasing allowable killing, setting a population cap, and limiting the wolves’ range. The judge found the rule further imperiled the endangered species, and the Service illegally failed to reconsider the wolves’ designation as a "non- essential" population.

Reading like something out of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, the January 2015 final rule refused to consider the only wild population of Mexican wolves as "essential" to the recovery of Mexican wolves in the wild. The rule also arbitrarily capped the population at a level far below what scientists consider necessary for recovery, excluded the wolves from native habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, and allowed more killing of Mexican wolves by federal agents and private landowners over livestock conflicts. The judge rejected each of these components of the rule.

"Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the Service’s Mexican wolf reintroduction rule," said Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center. "It’s amazing we had to go to court to prove that population caps, more killing, and less territory harms Mexican wolves, but the court made the right decision today."

 

"Banishing Mexican wolves from their native habitats to appease political interests is the latest mistake in the Service’s long history of mismanagement of Mexican wolf recovery," said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. "As the court held today, the only wild population of Mexican wolves is clearly essential to the species’ survival and recovery."

 

The Service’s Mexican wolf recovery plan so egregiously worked against Mexican wolf recovery, the scientists whose research was used to justify the policies wrote a letter disavowing the plan: "We are concerned that several of these citations misstate, misinterpret or provide incorrect context for the results and implications of our studies. Most of these problematic statements were not present in the draft [environmental impact statement], but occur for the first time in the final EIS."

The court held the Service failed to follow the best available science: "…[T]he best available science consistently shows that recovery requires consideration of long-term impacts, particularly the subspecies’ genetic health. Moreover, this case is unique in that the same scientists that are cited by the agency publicly communicated their concern that the agency misapplied and misinterpreted findings in such a manner that the recovery of the species is compromised. To ignore this dire warning was an egregious oversight by the agency." (Opinion at p. 31)

 

"Mexican wolves have struggled for almost a century largely because of human efforts to eradicate the species," said Judy Calman, staff attorney for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. "These embattled, iconic animals shouldn’t also have to struggle against the very agency tasked with saving them, and we're extremely pleased that the court agrees."

 

The rule instituted an unprecedented and scientifically unsound population cap of 300-325 Mexican wolves—something the original plan expressly disavowed. The best science shows that at least 750 wolves spread across three populations is necessary for recovery. The court rejected the population cap, finding "[t]he rule’s provision for a single, isolated population of 300-325 wolves, with one to two effective migrants per generation, does not further the conservation of the species and is arbitrary and capricious." (Opinion at p. 26)

 

Also rejected by the court, the management rule allowed expanded killing of Mexican wolves due to livestock conflicts. The rule’s language was extremely vague and subjective, referring to "unacceptable impacts" to "wild ungulate herds," opening the door to widespread killing of endangered wolves. The court ruled the expanded killing provisions "do not contain adequate protection for the loss of genetically valuable wolves." (Opinion at p. 28)

While the final rule expanded the boundaries of the area in which Mexican wolves would be allowed to roam, it banished Mexican wolves from important areas of native habitat, cutting them off arbitrarily north of Interstate 40. The best available science shows wolves must recolonize areas in the Southern Rockies and Grand Canyon to recover. The court criticized this arbitrary boundary noting the Service itself acknowledged the necessity of wolves dispersing into territories north of I-40 for the long-term recovery of the species.

 

"Friends of Animals is thrilled by this decision," said Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris. "It is both an important victory for Mexican wolves, as well as recognition that restoring North American carnivores is vital to the health and restoration of our wild places and ecosystems."

The Mexican wolf is the smallest, one of the rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the Service has yet to implement scientifically recommended recovery actions.

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Contacts:

Chris Smith, WildEarth Guardians, 505-395-6177, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Matthew Bishop, Western Environmental Law Center, 406-324-8011,

Judy Calman, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, 505-615-5020,

Michael Harris, Friends of Animals, 720-949-7791, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2018 Wolf Stamp Contest Results

2018 Wolf Stamp Contest Results

This year's New Mexico Wild Wolf Stamp competition once again drew amazing entries from artists who depicted this beloved endangered animal in various media ranging from paint to photography. The winning artist is Lobo Reincarnated Artist Nayana, who currently lives in Australia and was inspired to paint the Mexican gray wolf during a visit to New Mexico. Thanks to all the talented artists who made this year's selection a difficult task indeed! Wolf Stamps go on sale soon.

Five years ago this month, President Barack Obama listened to the community of el norte and established this monument at the urging of residents across Northern New Mexico. (The designation took place on March 25, 2013.)

In lobbying for this designation, traditional Hispanic and tribal communities, hunters, anglers, hikers and other outdoors lovers came together in an effort that lasted decades. A big push came from the business community, which still celebrates the positive economic impact the Río Grande del Norte has had on such towns as Taos and Questa. Since receiving monument status, average annual visits have been over 180,000 people.

The outdoors is beautiful, yes. But it is also good business.

Now, with President Donald Trump seeking to strip protections from public lands and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unpersuaded about the worth of monuments, national parks and the like, supporters of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument want everyone to realize they are just as determined now to protect this wild land.

In Taos, community members celebrated by discussing how local businesses can be leaders in protecting the environment. A group of partners even took out a full-page ad in our sister newspaper, The Taos News, and will be releasing an infographic that explains the ways the monument benefits Northern New Mexico.

Volunteers from the Río Grande del Norte National Monument Coalition, along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, held a service project last weekend at the Orilla Verde Recreation Area inside the monument. More than 35 volunteers removed overgrown vegetation and helped save cottonwoods from beaver damage. Protecting public lands is not simply a designation; it continues in perpetuity. This is our nation’s collective heritage.

It’s important to remind everyone — especially the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. — how essential public lands are to the health and wealth of the West. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, after reviewing a group of monuments, recommended amending the Río Grande del Norte National Monument proclamation to prioritize “public access; infrastructure upgrades, repair, and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.”

However, that shows Zinke is uninformed about the monument’s establishing proclamation. Obama’s work on creating the monument ensures access for ranching, hunting and fishing. Native American traditional uses can continue. Zinke’s amendment likely is a not-so-subtle way to open the area to energy development, to bring in ranching where it did not exist historically and to establish other uses — for profits, not for the people — that would alter the monument’s character.

Both New Mexico senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, stepped up to write White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to outline inaccuracies in Zinke’s recommendation, including mistakes about the nature of roads and grazing accesses. Citizens and must urge Trump to ignore Zinke and keep protections for our monument intact.

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument has been successful for the land, wildlife, people and businesses of Northern New Mexico. Residents want to see it continue to flourish. For that to happen, Washington must stop interfering and leave the monument alone. That’s what the people want at the local level, where community support remains strong and sustained.

 

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