Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wolf lawsuit watched closely here

The recent legal back-and-forth between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has local stakeholders holding their breath, as the two agencies’ disagreements over the controversial reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf may hit close to home. The agencies are tied together in collaboration on many projects but have clashed in recent years over the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, through which Fish and Wildlife has been tasked with reintroducing and developing populations of Mexican wolves in suitable habitats in Arizona and New Mexico. In 2014, when Fish and Wildlife revealed its revised plans for wolf recovery, they included an expansion of the permitted range of the wolf from isolated spaces in New Mexico and Arizona to almost all of the land in those states between Interstate 40 and the U.S. border with Mexico. The Service also accelerated plans for reintroductions and translocations of wolves from captivity or elsewhere in the wild, respectively, according to a system of three zones. It is these reintroductions that have the two agencies at odds. The conflict has its roots in the balance of powers between the state and federal agencies, with state Game and Fish asserting that federal Fish and Wildlife requires its permission to introduce any wildlife in the state. On Friday, May 13, Game and Fish announced that it had filed suit in 7th Judicial District Court to force a halt of Fish and Wildlife’s “unpermitted” and “illegal” releases of wildlife — especially the Mexican wolf — in a press release titled “Department Takes Action to Stop USFWS from Ignoring Federal and State Law.”...more

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