SANTA FE –-(Ammoland.com)- The New Mexico State Game Commission voted Sept. 26 to direct the Department of Game and Fish to become a signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in drafting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mexican wolf recovery program.
Yesterday’s action comes two years after the Department officially pulled out of the Mexican wolf recovery program.
“We want to re-engage and be at the table with the Service to assist in the interpretation of biological data and influence decisions that are ultimately going to impact New Mexicans, and our wildlife resources, for decades to come,” Department Director Jim Lane said.
“It gives us great concern that the Service doesn't have a viable recovery plan in place, yet they began development of an EIS,” Lane said. “Their approach puts stakeholders in a predicament of deciding to participate in a process that lacks defined objectives for wolf recovery, or risk sitting on the sidelines and watching the process unfold without the opportunity to provide input.”
While the State Game Commission supports the Department’s participation in development of the EIS, the Commission’s motion made note that it was not an endorsement or approval of the Mexican wolf program.
New Mexico ranchers continue to have reservations about the Wolf Recovery Program, due to the economic impact of losing cattle to wolves and the lack of a trustful working relationship between many in the affected ranching community and the Service.
“We agree that the Department should be at the table, we strongly support this,” said Caren Cowan of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association.
Although listed as an endangered species, Mexican wolves are considered an “experimental, nonessential population,” which means the species lacks rigid no-take prohibitions under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. The species was reintroduced to southwestern New Mexico in 1998, with a goal of reaching a population of at least 100. The current known population is at least 75 Mexican wolves in the wild.