Category Archives: wildlife

NM Department of Game and Fish (NMG&F) is once again reviewing its trapping policies

Greetings everyone,

The NM Department of Game and Fish (NMG&F) is once again reviewing its trapping policies which it does every two years. It shouldn’t be this hard to affect change, but your help is needed. Here are two things you can do to help persuade them that traps do not belong on public land.

1. Many of you have already recently written or signed the letter to the NMG&F at our tabling events around the state this spring. If you were one of them, a huge thank you. If you have not written or signed anything this time around yet, it couldn’t be easier. You can use the sample letter below. Please feel free to personalize it. Or you can send your own. It doesn’t need to be long- a few lines are enough. Email it to Rick Winslow at . (Send a copy also to )

2. Most importantly, please use the miracle of email to let your friends and family know as well. You don’t have to be an in-state resident or voter to add your comments. Kids can write too. (Children are shamefully allowed to trap after all and don’t even need a license if under 12 years old.) Public land belongs to everyone and no one should have to worry about having an encounter with a leg-hold trap or snare while using them. Please forward this request to your friends and family. We need as many comment letters as possible to let Game and Fish know there is still broad support to get traps off New Mexico’s public lands and that it is growing.

This review process happens every two years and your letters from two years ago have resulted in change. The game commission has passed a quasi-mandatory requirement that trappers at least report their kills. Of course, we will have to rely on trappers to be honest and accurate in this report. And oddly, if trappers fail to report, they will not be allowed to put in for any special draw hunts but will still be allowed to trap in the following season. It remains to be seen how much compliance there will be. Even though this change is a far cry from adequately protecting the public and wildlife from the scourge of traps, it would not have occurred without our collective voice of protest. Moreover, there have been staff changes at the Game Department and there are two new game commissioners. Even if you wrote then, please write again! Traps are simply not acceptable on New Mexico’s public land.

Here is a link to the latest issue of the Rio Grande Sierran with a front page article on trapping, . And for general information on the problems with NM trapping, please visit the main trapping pages at

Mary Katherine Ray
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Here is a sample letter you may copy, paste and send to the new furbearer program coordinator, Rick Winslow, at :

Dear Mr. Winslow,

Leg-hold and lethal traps are not compatible with public use. They should not be permitted on New Mexico’s public land. The NM Department of Game and Fish has an obligation to everyone who enjoys wildlife not just people who buy licenses. Trappers are exploiting public wildlife for personal financial gain. The point is not wildlife management but to sell the skins of these animals. Trapping is not an ethical way to kill wildlife, it is not “fair chase”, nor is it sporting. By hiding traps on public land where other people may legitimately recreate, trappers place us and our animals at risk- a gross infringement of our rights.

Traps do not discriminate. In addition to the legally trapped species, others may be caught including the companion dogs of hikers, search and rescue dogs, and other wildlife including endangered species. The injuries incurred may range from lacerations, swelling, and lameness to broken bones, tissue damage and mutilations that are life-threatening. Trappers are not held accountable and face no penalties in these cases.

NM Game and Fish has not adequately monitored the effect that unlimited trapping has on the wildlife collectively called furbearers. It is not known how many of these animals there are, yet there are no bag limits for any species and no limit to the number of traps that may be set out. There is no information going forward on the effects this practice is having on animal populations or any consideration given to the toll taken by drought which is intensifying. Please stop this abusive practice on public land.


(be sure to include your name and physical address)

ABQjournal: Experts: Wolf Recovery Program Failing

ABQjournal: Experts: Wolf Recovery Program Failing
By Tania Soussan
Copyright © 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer

The wild Mexican gray wolf population has been shrinking— rather than growing as it should— as wolves are removed from the wild for repeatedly killing livestock.

Almost an entire pack died in late May, and a separate lone wolf was shot by the wolf reintroduction program team last week, all for racking up too many depredations.

The conflict between livestock and wolves is nothing new. But expansion of wolf territories and ongoing drought are adding new stresses to the reintroduction program that aims to bring back wolves to southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

Critics, both environmentalists who favor wolf reintroduction and ranchers who don’t want wolves near their cows, say the losses are a sign the program is failing. …

In 1996, the Fish and Wildlife Service set population goals for the wolf program— 15 breeding pairs and 83 wolves in the wild by the end of last year, and 18 breeding pairs and 102 wolves in the wild by the end of this year.

Program managers put the count for the end of 2005 at five breeding pairs and 35-49 wolves in the wild. (The current count is 31-45 adults plus an unknown number of pups.)

Morgart calls it “an absolute minimum count.” Ranchers agree and say there are likely twice as many wolves on the ground. Environmentalists say the numbers fall on the high end.

The wild population has also been declining since it hit a high point of 55 wolves at the end of 2003.

Mexican Wolf Conservation and Management

About 50 to 60 along Arizona-New Mexico border now, due to releases beginning in 1998, and more than 200 in various captive breeding facilities in the United States and Mexico.

– View the latest 3-month wolf distribution map
– View printer-friendly version of 3-month wolf map

Principally oak, pine, and juniper woodlands and forests, grasslands, and riparian corridors, in broken, sloping country. Generally above 4,000 feet elevation, occasionally lower.

Wolf Killed After It Killed Livestock

ABQJOURNAL: Wolf Killed After It Killed Livestock

A Mexican gray wolf that officials said was involved in at least three livestock killings in the past year has been shot and killed in the Gila National Forest.

A member of the wolf recovery team killed the male wolf last Sunday after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permanent removal order for it. The order came after the wolf was confirmed to have killed a cow in southeastern Catron County.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing wolves into the wild on the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range.

However, the animals under the program are designated as a ”nonessential experimental population.” That gives the recovery team greater flexibility to manage the wolves under the Endangered Species Act and allows permanent removal of a wolf — by capturing or killing it — after three confirmed livestock deaths.

Game and Fish Director Bruce Thompson said the state is working with Fish and Wildlife on federal rule changes “that will promote more effective recovery areas and diminish the likelihood of problem wolves in New Mexico.”

The reintroduction program allows Mexican gray wolves to be released in New Mexico only if they previously were released in Arizona and have experience in the wild.

The wolf recovery team said three Mexican wolves, an adult male and two female yearlings, will be released this month in the Gila Wilderness.

The male was captured and removed from the wild in 2005 after it was involved in a livestock death. The yearlings were removed from the wild last year after cattle killings by adults in their pack.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 32 to 46 endangered Mexican wolves live in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Last week, Fish and Wildlife officials said the alpha male of a pack that had been killing cattle on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona had been shot to death, and that eight other wolves captured from that pack had died — including six pups killed by a surrogate parent wolf.

Wolf Pack Is Down from Twelve to Two

ABQjournal: 12-Wolf Pack Is Down to Two By Tania Soussan
Copyright © 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer

The Southwest’s 12-member Hon Dah Pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves was down to just two Wednesday after a sharpshooter killed one, six pups were killed by another wolf and others died following capture.

“The loss of these wolves is a blow to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and everyone who is working to recover wolves in the Southwest,” said Benjamin Tuggle, acting Southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. …

The wolves were targeted for permanent removal from the wild last month after being found responsible for seven confirmed and four probable livestock depredations on tribal lands since last June 7. Arizona’s White Mountain Apache tribe asked for their removal. … The alpha male was shot about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning by a tribal member of the wolf reintroduction program field team.[mjh: so much for Brother Wolf and living in harmony with everything.]

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 32 to 46 wolves and an unknown number of pups in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The number is far fewer than the federal endangered species reintroduction program had expected to have now.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity in an interview called the deaths “an atrocity” and said a moratorium on wolf killings and trappings is needed. “The Mexican wolf is facing an emergency,” he said.

The Hon Dah Pack included two adults, three yearlings and seven 4-week-old pups.

Blog Search Results for ‘wolf wolves’

Comment period extended for Mexican gray wolf plan – Comment period extended for Mexican gray wolf plan
By: Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – The public has more time to comment on a five-year review of an effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing wolves into the wild along the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range.

As of the end of 2005, there were an estimated 35 to 49 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

The five-year review of the reintroduction program recommends expanding the range in which the animals are allowed.

The program is awaiting a response from the Fish and Wildlife Service, which has given the public another 14 days, until May 30th, to comment.

Ranchers have objected to wolf reintroduction, while environmentalists argue that wolf reintroduction is hampered by people more than biological concerns.

The Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Home – USFWS

Gray Wolf homepage

Rare Falcon Spotted On Otero Mesa

ABQjournal: Rare Falcon Spotted On Otero Mesa
The Associated Press

SANTA FE— An endangered northern aplomado falcon has been spotted on Otero Mesa in the southern part of the state, according to an environmental group trying to stop plans for oil and gas drilling in the area.
Forest Guardians reported last week that a young falcon was seen about two miles from where a pair of falcons was spotted in August. The young bird was photographed by an environmental consultant who is conducting falcon surveys.
The sighting was the eighth in as many months, and environmentalists are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold off on a reintroduction plan that would remove habitat protection for wild falcons in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Environmental groups have said the falcon is being threatened by oil and gas drilling in its habitat— including Otero Mesa, site of a challenged Bureau of Land Management plan for drilling.

Plan to Capture Jaguar Is Opposed

ABQjournal: Plan to Capture Jaguar Is Opposed
The Associated Press

LORDBURG— A team of government scientists has voted to capture one of a handful of jaguars known to live in the United States, drawing protests from environmental groups.
The scientists want use a radio collar to follow the jaguar’s movements, along river corridors or through mountain ranges, to help authorities figure out which areas most need protection in the name of the species.
The decision, voted on here last week, needs to be approved by game agencies in Arizona and New Mexico, meaning it could take until the end of the year before one is collared, Arizona Game and Fish officials said.
However, three environmental groups— the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sky Island Alliance— contend that the stress of capture is risky for the animal.
In 2002 and 2003, two jaguars died after being captured in Sonora, Mexico, for radio-collaring. That’s two out of the three research-based jaguar captures ever made in Sonora.

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Northern Jaguar Project

Northern Jaguar Project

In the rugged Sierra Madre foothill mountains in the state of Sonora, Mexico, lies one of the largest areas of unfragmented, largely unprotected, wildlife habitats remaining in North America. The area contains some 3000 square miles of near-pristine wildlife habitat, marred only by the effects of range cattle grazing.

This dramatically beautiful region has unprecedented significance for the conservation of many threatened and endangered species.

The topography of rough mountains, deep canyons, and sheer cliffs, along with the vegetation mix of tropical thornscrub, tropical deciduous forest, and oak woodlands, provides a rich and regionally unique habitat for biodiversity of native flora and fauna. Rare wildlife species include:

* The northernmost viable breeding population of jaguars
* Military macaws in their northernmost nesting sites
* The northernmost breeding population of neotropical river otters
* The southernmost nesting site for bald eagles
* Ocelots, desert tortoises, Gila monsters, lilac-crowned parrots, eared trogons, and other rare and important species.

Protection of the area is crucial for preservation of viable habitat for all of the species present, but particularly for protection of the last remaining breeding populations of endangered jaguars in northern Mexico. Protection is essential for creation of a wildlife corridor between Mexico and the United States. The corridor will create connectivity and allow recolonization of endangered species in the United States, contributing to the maintenance of genetic diversity.

We have a brief window of opportunity to preserve this area of precious biodiversity and we must act now.

Ah, Wilderness! » Jaguar in New Mexico

For the first time in a decade, a jaguar has been sighted in the state.

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Jaguar in New Mexico

ABQjournal: Jaguar Seen In Hidalgo County By Tania Soussan, Journal Staff Writer

What’s spotted all over but rarely spotted in New Mexico?

For the first time in a decade, a jaguar has been sighted in the state.

The elusive big cats— known for their golden yellow coats with dark rosette markings— once roamed widely in Arizona and New Mexico.

Today, they are endangered and mostly restricted to Mexico. Mostly.

“We have a report of a jaguar sighting in Hidalgo County,” New Mexico Game and Fish spokesman Marty Frentzel said this week. “We’re still trying to get all the facts.”

The jaguar was sighted by a mountain lion hunter and “our understanding is he was using hounds,” Frentzel added.

Beyond that, the state isn’t saying much.

But word of the sighting is spreading. Jon Schwedler, a New Mexican and manager of the Northern Jaguar Project, heard the news recently.

“It’s exciting that this jaguar is here,” he said.

Jaguars are the largest cats native to North America. They are powerful, solitary predators and can travel hundreds of miles. They are often thought of as jungle animals but have also been found in desert grasslands and conifer forests.

“We don’t know what to make of it,” Frentzel said. “… Occasionally, there is use of New Mexico by jaguar. Other than that, it may not mean much.”

Years ago, a hunter took pictures of a jaguar his dogs treed in the bootheel of NM. Hunters are the only ones lucky enough to see these big cats — I hope they are all decent enough to let them be. mjh

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Jaguars in Arizona

Automated cameras spot jaguars in Southern Arizona By Mitch Tobin, ARIZONA DAILY STAR

photo of jaguarAutomated cameras have filmed at least two jaguars creeping across Southern Arizona since late August, offering fresh evidence that the endangered cats at least visit here from Mexico. …

Rancher and lion hunter Warner Glenn photographed another jaguar [in 1996] in the Peloncillo Mountains, near the New Mexico border.

Opportunistic and adaptive, jaguars have been recorded eating more than 85 species. In Arizona, they are thought to survive by ambushing deer and javelina. …

At least 60 jaguars were killed in Arizona and New Mexico in the 20th century, including two in the Rincon and Catalina mountains in 1902. A female jaguar was shot as far north as the Grand Canyon in 1932, but the last female recorded in Arizona was in 1963 in the White Mountains. Cubs haven’t been documented since the first decade of the 20th century, according to David Brown and Carlos Lopez Gonzalez’s “Borderland Jaguars” (University of Utah, 2001).

Jaguars, the Western Hemisphere’s biggest cat, may travel up to 500 miles searching for food or a mate, but the size of their territory may be as small as 10 square miles.

Once found throughout nearly all of Latin America and parts of the American Southwest, jaguars are now considered imperiled across two-thirds of their historic range, according to a 2002 study in the journal Conservation Biology.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the jaguar as endangered in 1987 after a lawsuit from the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity.

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