Thursday, February 09, 2017

Wolf lovers, ranchers face off in competing Capitol rallies

A debate raged Wednesday among dozens of people outside the state Capitol over wolves versus ranchers. “More wolves,” shouted some people holding signs with slogans like “Free the Lobos.” Their supporters howled. “No wolves,” shouted another group, some wearing cowboy hats and holding signs that said, “Moove Over Wolves!” and “No More Lobos!” No one threatened to throw punches, even when things got heated. The competing demonstrators seemed content to outshout each other. Casey Spradley, a rancher from San Juan County, said she doesn’t oppose wolves, but she’s concerned about captive-raised wolves being released into the wild, potentially with less fear of humans. “My concern is they just keep trying to turn out more and more and more wolves,” said Spradley, who does not live in an area of Southern New Mexico set aside by the federal government for recovery of the Mexican gray wolf. “My bigger issue than the release of wolves is that the other side is trying to use the reintroduction of wolves to drive ranchers off of public lands. I believe there is a second agenda.” Santa Fe artist and musician Bird Thompson argued passionately with some of the ranchers, saying wolves have as much right to be on the landscape as cows. “As long as I’m breathing, I will fight for wild animals and people to co-exist,” Bird said later. Craig Ogden, who runs a farm near Loving, said federal wildlife officials have talked about creating a corridor for the wolf to migrate from Interstate 40 to the Guadalupe Mountains near his property. He said he’s concerned about the potential for the wolf to impede efforts he and others are making to restore populations of the lesser prairie chicken, another endangered species in the area...more

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