By Melinda Kirkwood
I am writing in response to the article published on the front page of your newspaper (“Wolf pups released into N.M. wilderness,” April 30). I have a degree in wildlife biology and work with a wide range of wild species on a daily basis as my profession. I think it is very concerning that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish wants to deny the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the ability to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf back into its native territory.
State Game and Fish officials talk about procedure and permits, and of course, the “rancher” scare tactic is always an ace-in-the-hole. However, state officials have failed to mention any scientific reasoning for their denial. Based on my previous experiences with those at Game and Fish, their priorities as an organization seem more aligned with managing game species that benefit ranchers/hunters/anglers, because that, in turn, benefits the department financially.
I appreciate your newspaper publishing this article about the Mexican gray wolf pups on the front page and shedding light on this important conservation issue. I understand this can be a topic of controversy since New Mexico has a large ranching community. However, the majority of the population agrees with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to reintroduce the gray wolf into the state.
For example, a survey conducted in the spring of 2008 by the New Mexico Legislature through an independent company (Research and Polling Inc.) revealed “69 percent of voters support the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves into the Apache and Gila National Forests.” A more recent poll conducted by Tulchin Research in August 2013 showed that “74 percent of New Mexico voters agree there should be a science-based recovery plan” for Mexican gray wolves and “87 percent of New Mexicans and Arizonians agree that wolves are a ‘vital part of America’s wilderness and natural heritage.’” Therefore, state Game and Fish reasoning behind the disapproval of the project is not supported by public opinion.
Our voices are not being heard. It is time for that to change.
Melinda Kirkwood is a wildlife biologist and animal advocate whose goal is to help create a world where humans and animals can coexist in the natural environment.