County Commissioners recently passed a resolution that supports sound, scientifically-based wildlife management rather than federal land-use restrictions or federal listings under the Endangered Species Act regarding Mexican gray wolves at their monthly commission

The Mexican gray wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Historically, these wolves ranged from central Mexico through southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico and southwestern Texas.

According to a report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), when ranchers moved into these areas in the late 1800s and early 1900s, conflicts between humans and wolves began to increase. The ranchers killed many wolves to protect their livestock. By the 1970s, the wolves were nearly extinct.

After the Mexican gray wolf was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, the FWS, coordinating with Mexico, spearheaded captive breeding and reintroduction programs and planned to release wolves into the species’ former territorial range in the United States.

Otero County’s Resolution No. 09-08-2016/105-10 urges the state of New Mexico and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation to ensure the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary implements a pause to the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program (MGWRP) unless and until a complete and independent review of the MGWRP is implemented.

It also urges Congress to enact legislation deferring to the states on management of Mexican gray wolves and to support local, state and private conservation efforts without serious and adverse effects to private property rights, economic development and western communities.

In 2013 Congressman Steve Pearce requested DOI investigate the FWS that managed the wolf program. The Catron County Board of Commissioners had submitted a complaint in July 2013 to then Congressman Doc Hastings.

Catron County is the largest county in land size in New Mexico, but has the third smallest population of any New Mexico county. The county covers almost 7,000 square miles and is comprised of mostly rugged mountainous terrain.

According to a news report from the Silver City Sun-News, the complaint was filled with numerous allegations failing to properly document nuisance complaints about wolves. It also stated that they did not communicate effectively with Catron County residents in relationship to addressing public safety concerns involving the wolves.

The misconduct allegations were mainly targeted to former Field Coordinator Elizabeth Jozwiak. The complaint said Jozwiak mismanaged livestock depredation investigations and compensation and had destroyed a wolf DNA sample and mishandled a wolf bite incident involving a FWS volunteer.

The Office of the Inspector General concluded its investigation into allegations about the FWS’s MGWRP earlier this year in July. The reorganization resulted in improvements that included shorter response times to nuisances, better interactions with livestock owners, improved documentation of nuisances and depredations and improved communication and working relationships with owners and partner agencies just to name a few.

The Otero County Grazing Advisory Board discussed the Mexican gray wolf at their quarterly meeting Aug. 18 and recommended commissioners pass the resolution. The item was brought forward by Commissioner Janet White and was passed unanimously 3-0.

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