Monday, October 19, 2015

Editorial: State plays hardball with feds over wolf recovery

No new recovery plan. No more wolves. That’s the completely reasonable position of the New Mexico Game Commission.

The commission recently upheld the state Game and Fish Department’s denial of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s request to release more wolves this year as part of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program.

The federal agency, which like many federal agencies views its powers as virtually limitless, wants to place up to 10 Mexican wolf pups into dens in the Gila National Forest to be raised by surrogate parents and to release two adult wolves and their pups into the Gila.

It’s the first time New Mexico has rejected the agency’s annual operational permit request, according to Fish and Wildlife. It follows an earlier commission rejection of a permit renewal for Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch wolf-holding facility in Sierra County.

Sherry Barrett, Mexican wolf coordinator for Fish and Wildlife, said the agency will review its options and may release the wolves anyway.

The agency’s position, predictably, is that it does not need state approval to pursue the wolf recovery program, which now has about 110 wolves in New Mexico and Arizona, although it prefers to have state buy-in.

Under Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, the state and the feds have been at odds over the program.

...The federal government appears to be making up the program as it goes. New Mexico is right: A plan first, more wolves second.

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