Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Mexico Game Commission Approves End to Ban Trapping

A Mexican wolf in motion

It has been recently reported that the game commission of New Mexico has voted unanimously in favor of the Fish and Game Department to end the ban of trapping in the state's southwestern side. The vote caused a great deal of disappointment for conservationists, who had sent thousands of emails and letters to the commission to support keeping the ban. The reason is because the southwestern part of the state has been used by federal officials to reintroduce the critically endangered Mexican wolf. Without this ban on trapping, the wolf is definitely off the road to recovery.

The ban on trapping was approved last summer by former Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, who was a strong supporter in the wolf reintroduction effort. Due to this, the commission extended the ban last fall which gave researchers more time to study the dangers of trapping and snaring to the wolves. Although they had done their work, a report summarizing their findings is still not yet made public. During this holdup, conservation groups suspected and accused the Fish and Game Department of collaborating with livestock and trapping groups in order to influence the game commission's decision-making process. They even claimed that the commission refused to provide information related to meetings the department had with the industry groups. According to Wendy Keefover, director of WildEarth Guardians' carnivore protection program, the commission had made up its mind. However, most of its members were appointed by Republican Governor Susana Martinez who had expressed her concerns about the wolf programs' impact on ranchers. Both the WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club claimed they had received documents, which indicate that the commissioners met with the Sportsmen and Landowners' Coalition regarding trapping rules on June 16th. The commission did not provide any records of the meeting, except emails that referred to it differently. The groups also claimed that the documents showed a department employee had issued a petition for the New Mexico Trappers Association in support of trapping.

I'm very disappointed by the fact that New Mexico's game commission has voted to end the ban on trapping. This type of action has put the Mexican wolves in jeopardy. Unlike their northern relatives, these wolves are in low numbers but this concept does not seem to sit well with ranchers and other industry groups. These people simply do not care about the animals' status, and would rather shoot them on sight for the fear of their livestock. But what really appalls me the most is that the Fish and Game Department decided to pull out of the project in reintroducing these wolves into the wild. Furthermore, conservation groups claimed that the department had been collaborating with livestock and trapping groups in order to influence the commission's decision-making. I personally find this as a scheme to hamper with the reintroduction project. People in New Mexico should first learn to understand about the status of these wolves before doing anything. Any form of killing will make the future look bleak for the animals. There should be strict laws imposed on either either trapping or killing of these wolves. They are vital in the desert ecosystem of the American Southwest. Without them, the desert region would never be the same.

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