Mexican gray wolves face new challenges in struggle for survival

A massive forest fire and sudden right-wing politics makes survival of the rarest wolf slimmer still-

New Mexico had a pretty good governor, Bill Richardson, in terms of wildlife, but he retired and was replaced by Susana Martinez of the far right. She replaced four members of the New Mexico State Game Commission, and they recently withdrew from the Mexican wolf recovery effort. On top of this the massive Wallow Fire burned right through the core of the wolves’ habitat.

Will any of the 50 wild Mexican wolves survive? This article examines the situation.

There is a real lesson here. If a species goes extinct, it doesn’t matter if the governor elected in 2014 is better on the issue. If grandma doesn’t get her heart medicine because the tea bag governor cut her off and she died, the next governor can’t resurrect her.



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  1. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    “She believes we must find an equitable and fair solution to this problem…..”
    Let´s see what her understanding of “fair” looks like!

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Martinez is owned by Catron County. There were 9 depredations last year and her only comment focuses on livestock loss and “safety issues”. They have obstructed this process since the reintroduction began. The Paquet report was done and made recommendations to have releases of wolves made directly into the Gila in New Mexico. Force these idiots to comply!!! They are using the same tired arguments that they have used for decades……”the wolf was put here to further put us out of business” Where is the leadership from Tom Udall on this issue?

  2. Demarcated Landscapes Avatar

    We found the real highlight of the article to be Catron County Commissioner Hugh B. McKeen’s claim, “”So many ranchers are fed up with losing cattle,” McKeen said. “And we don’t want these federal people on our land.”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but 96 percent of the land in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is public land.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Demarcated Landscapes thanks for pointing this out. It has long been the conceit of these people and others like them in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, etc., that the public lands of the United States do not belong to all Americans nor even to residents of their own state.

      A lot of these people belong to the Tea Party, and I can see this as a future budget demand that the public lands be turned over to the local livestock barony and the rest of us excluded.

    2. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Yeah, all nine of em. When a calf dies because of birthing complications the rancher takes the loss. How convenient when there are wolves in the area to blame. These Catron County folks are not normal….Now that NM fish and game has withdrawn support the FEDS should proceed with direct reintroductions into NM…..After all this is a federal program right

  3. PointsWest Avatar

    I can give you a little background since I lived in New Mexico for several years. Most of the ranchers in Northern New Mexico are Hispanic and some can trace their roots back to the Coronado expedition in the 16th century. Santa Fe has been a territorial capital of some kind in New Mexico since 1609. Hispanics in Northern New Mexico have their own culture. Many are more prejudice against illegal immigrants (wetbacks) from Mexico than are whites.

    Southern New Mexico is almost entirely ranched by Anglos who migrated there when America expanded into the West in the 19th century. All of the small towns around the Gila are mining towns that sprang up during the gold rush era. The Gila is very remote. The people (mostly white) are very poor and generally uneducated. To give you an idea, I broke the front strut assembly on my Baja Bug and took it to a mechanic in the town of Reserve, New Mexico. He cut the new parts needed from a wreck he had behind his shop, he welded them onto my car, he painted the welds, he greased the front end, and spent a total of about three hours working on my car. He charged me $20.

    People around the Gila understand two things very well. One is that the habitat of the Gila and surrounding area is vastly improved by ranching. They know it is ranchers that provide water to many areas. There are windmills and stock tanks all over the area (and many other areas of New Mexico/Arizona) that are used by deer, elk, coyotes that would otherwise not live there.

    They also know that there were no elk and few deer in the area prior to about 1920. Elk had been extirpated from New Mexico by 1900 and the elk that are there now are Yellowstone transplants which sportsman group brought in.

    Most people in New Mexico want those wolves. When I lived there, they had not yet been released but several were at a special facility at the Albuquerque Zoo and were very popular. Every little kid in Albuquerque had seen those “lobos.” There were many news stories about them. The “Lobo” is the mascot for UNM. But New Mexico has some wild politics…lots of extremes. Back in the creationism heyday of the Reagan era, laws were passed in New Mexico forcing that creationism be taught along side evolution…even at the university level. It was only repealed when all the university students in medicine, biology, wildlife or any other field affected began transferring to universities out-of-state…along with many faculty.

    You also see some very crazy politics because of Hispanic family values. To Hispanics, family is everything. There are many instances of Hispanics gaining office and making extreme and disruptive changes and it is later discovered that it was because some cousin or uncle was getting rich from the changes.

    If I were a political opponent of this new Gov Martinez, I would find out who her family members are. Chances are, she is passing laws and disrupting the Lobo recovery only because one or two family members are benefiting. I’m serious. Next to a cousin, the entire species of lobos does not mean a thing.

    1. cc Avatar

      This has nothing to do with race, it’s all about cattle.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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