Nationwide Movement Deplores Politically Driven Halt to Turner’s Assistance
SILVER CITY, N.M.— Forty-six conservation organizations and wolf-breeding facilities, in 13 states as well as the nation’s capital, are imploring New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to reverse the state Game Commission’s decision to deny Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch permission to continue housing endangered Mexican gray wolves. By providing facilities where captive-bred wolves can be acclimated to the wild before their release, the ranch’s work has been a key part of the federal Mexican wolf reintroduction program for the past 17 years.
“We find it odd and inappropriate for state government to interfere with philanthropic activities conducted responsibly by a private landowner on private lands to offset expenses that otherwise would be borne by taxpayers,” the organizations wrote in a letter sent to the Republican governor today.
On May 7 the game commission, whose members represent livestock and hunting interests, denied the Turner Endangered Species Fund a permit to continue operating its wolf-holding facilities on the Ladder Ranch, which abuts the Gila National Forest where Mexican wolves live in southwestern New Mexico. The facilities have been used since the beginning of the reintroduction program in 1998.
“Gov. Martinez should tell her game commission to quit playing politics and allow Ted Turner to continue his critically important work helping to recover the endangered Mexican gray wolf,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Reintroduction requires many helping hands, and it’s shameful that there are impeding hands as well.”
They groups also wrote that “policy decisions should not be dictated through depriving managers of infrastructure.”
“The game commission is composed of trapping, livestock and trophy-hunting representatives who apparently do not share most New Mexicans’ enthusiasm for these rare, important and beautiful wolves,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club, Rio Grande chapter. “They should not unilaterally be denying a permit for a facility on private land that is and has been working cooperatively in the public interest to conserve endangered wildlife.”
“The game commission has once again shown its prejudice against New Mexico’s native carnivores,” said Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center. “But the commission’s act of ideological petulance is fiscally irresponsible, since taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for what Ted Turner was doing for free to help government biologists in the recovery of the Mexican wolf.”
The 157,000-acre Ladder Ranch includes five pens that can hold as many as 25 wolves. It serves as a way station for wolves released into or removed from the wild. Previously the ranch’s permit had been issued by the director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, but a November 2014 game commission rule required, for the first time, that permits used in reintroduction of mammalian carnivores be approved by the commission.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Katherine Ray, Sierra Club, (575) 772-5655, email@example.com
Kevin Bixby, Southwest Environmental Center, (575) 522-5552, firstname.lastname@example.org