Taxpayers shell out huge subsidies to wolf-killer’s ranching enterprise

It’s been a while since there’s been news about public lands rancher/wolf killer Craig Thiessen from New Mexico. He’s the guy who pleaded guilty to killing a trapped Mexican gray wolf pup (named “Mia Tuk” by an Albuquerque schoolkid) with a shovel in 2015. He got off relatively easy for violating the Endangered Species Act and was mysteriously never prosecuted for animal cruelty by New Mexico, but the U.S. Forest Service took his violation of the grazing regulations very seriously and they yanked his grazing permit in November 2018.

Trespassing bull on the Canyon del Buey allotment, June 12, 2020. Photo: G. Anderson/WWP

Thiessen appealed the loss of his permit all the way up to the regional director, who affirmed the District Ranger’s decision and ordered the cows off Canyon del Buey allotment by the end of August 2019. As you can probably guess, Thiessen defied this direction and his cows are still in trespass on the Gila National Forest. There’s been some legal back and forth between Thiessen and the feds and that process is ongoing (more on that here soon), but there’s something else for the taxpaying public to be enraged about:

Canyon del Buey LLC was the largest recipient of Farm Bill livestock subsidies in Catron County in 2019, raking in $135,683 dollars of federal funding. Of that, $119,029 came under the “Livestock Indemnity Program” which is designated for livestock losses in excess than usual due to extreme weather or due to animals reintroduced by the federal government, i.e. wolves. It’s impossible (so far) to determine whether the Thiessens got money for extreme weather or livestock depredations, but at about $1,000K per head (see page 6 at link), that’s a whole lot of dead cows we taxpayers are paying for. (And it’s not the first time: Craig Thiessen has also received almost $400,000 since he whacked Mia Tuk.)

This was in addition to the $9,550.50 Craig Thiessen got for claimed wolf depredations in 2019. Not clear which livestock were his, but as we’ve shown, many of the Catron County wolf depredation reports are a little more than fishy. At least that $9,550.50 came out of a privately-established compensation fund (the “Groves Estate”) and not taxpayer pockets, but it’s kind of offensive that someone who admitted to bludgeoning a wolf pup to death with a shovel can turn around and get money for his dead cows. It’s almost as if the game is rigged to benefit wolf-hating ranchers.

You don’t say.






  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I knew it had to be too good to be true. 🙁

    I will never understand what causes such vicious hatred of a poor animal, that someone would do something so violent and irrational to them as bludgeoning them with a shovel. Especially with this new information!

    In modern times, you’d think things would be different, as people people completely dominate the landscape, make the laws and rules.

    With everything that faces this country today, articles still make news about delisting and controlling them, and in Colorado they are on the ballot!

    The poor creatures have no idea how humans obsess about them.

  2. Donald J Kaleta Avatar

    As Wolf Depredation on Domestic Livestock escalates, in the U.S. and throughout the World with the Wolves successful re-introduction populations spread, the contentious anger between Livestock Producers and Conservationists does also spread. My published research web site at http://WWW.FENCEFLAGWOLFTRAINING.COM is a tangible NON-LETHAL suggestion, with minimal cost, to mitigate some of the anger on both sides of the fence!

  3. Maggie Frazier Avatar
    Maggie Frazier

    Until government agencies are empowered AND staffed by people who are there because they believe in the right of these animals to not only exist but to be allowed the habitat that they require to do so this will continue to happen. I’m sure there are a few that qualify currently, but in this present atmosphere, are unable to do what they should & need to be doing. There are actual businesses(above comment) that can prevent some of the destruction being done to these endangered wild animals, and likely there are ranchers who use the non-lethal methods, but until the “other” livestock producers are firmly (!) prevented from doing what this individual (kindest title I could give him) has done & probably still continues doing – its surely an uphill battle.

  4. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    IDK, I no longer feel anger about it, just sadness, disappointment, and quite frankly, revulsion.

    But why such anger directed at one animal, and over centuries? Or really two animals, coyotes and wolves. Mountain lions and bears don’t get the same vitriol directed towards them.

    We hear so much about the good ranchers, the good hunters – but as with the Michigan poacher story recently, just look at the damage one ‘individual’ (I agree!) can do!

    You’ve got to get ranchers to use non-lethal means of protecting livestock. I think there is the (only) one ranch out in WA who refuses to use non-lethal methods, or does so in a perfunctory manner, and won’t accept payment either for losses, on principle – I believe I have read. And yet is catered to by the state and the F&W department, on public lands!

    I haven’t eaten beef in two decades at least, because I do not want to be a part of it. It’s disgusting.

  5. Beeline Avatar

    “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nations forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations”. This is the forest circus’ motto.

    If people actually believe the above, then they also probably believe in the tooth fairy. In fact the tooth fairy may have more credibility.

    Uphill battle alright. Back in my biologist days we had a saying- “If there was only one salmon left in the Sacramento River, the republicans would try to kill it and the democrats would stand there and let them do it”.

    The agencies are paper tigers and the situation has only become worse since Citizens United passed. Money can flow into congress from just about anywhere. The U.S. is stuck in the empire building ‘gear’ and will not give up the power and control vested in the corporate wealthy. Not even if destruction is imminent. Some of the super rich crazies think they can simply invest in condos on Mars or the moon to escape. Their arrogance is without bounds.

    The ants, centipedes and scorpions are getting ready to have their ‘Humans are finally gone’ victory dance.

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      Absolutely agree! This push to get to Mars is so asinine – the money spent? Maybe it could be used, oh, I dont know, to actually do what should have been done in the beginning of this pandemic??Maybe? OR to finally help Puerto Rico recover from the hurricane now – how many years ago? OR Lake Charles that has been demolished by TWO hurricanes? Where the he__ is fema?
      And yes – the tiny creatures with maybe possibly a few larger animals will dance and heave a hugh sigh of relief – finally the “other nations” will be free!

  6. Rin Porter Avatar
    Rin Porter

    It is New Mexico’s shame that this man was never prosecuted for animal cruelty, and the Republican Administrations’ shame that his cows have not been confiscated and sold. They are violating the federal laws! Why is he allowed to get away with this? Imagine if a person who was a member of a minority group let his cows stay on a revoked lease. Do you think for one minute that he wouldn’t be arrested and charged and his property impounded? No one is above the law, and the law needs to come down hard on this man and his livestock.

  7. Louise Kane Avatar

    As you know,
    The Trump administration removed federal protections for wolves on Thursday. When Jon Tester (Democrat in Montana and Max Bacchus R ) did this to wolves in the Rockies it has been a disaster.

    Wolves are gunned down in Idaho from helicopters in wilderness areas, they are trapped, shot, and snared with virtually no protections. Essentially they are slaughtered in the most barbaric ways.

    These actions take place despite intense public opposition, the advise of large carnivore scientists and are often done to curry favor with a minority of trophy hunters and lobbies like the Safari Club or agricultural groups.

    In most states wildlife laws are archaic and in dire need of reform. Without federal legislation these states are unlikely to adequately protect wildlife by setting aside more refuges, preventing baiting, trapping, hounding and snaring, setting bag limits and requiring independent commissions made up of mixed boards that include scientists and wildlife specialists instead of hunters.

    This petition is intended to garner signatures so that it and the Carnivore act that Jon Way and I wrote for MA can be submitted to Congress as a model for a national act.
    Hopefully after the 3rd of November we might see some anxious to undo all the damage this administration has done.
    Please sign and share widely…

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