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In the News: Turner ranch’s wolf permit appeal denied

Albuquerque Journal, 1/15/16 – Your Letters Are Needed

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In a unanimous vote, the New Mexico Game Commission has denied an appeal by Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch for a permit to host Mexican wolves as part of a federal species recovery program.

Thursday’s decision ends – for now – a nearly eight-month saga in which the Sierra County ranch owned by media mogul Turner tried to persuade the commission to reconsider its original denial in May, a denial that was in part driven by concerns about how the federal government was managing the reintroduction program.

The Ladder Ranch permit had been in place 17 years.

Commission members on Thursday invited the Turner Endangered Species Fund’s Mike Phillips to reapply for a permit to host wolves at the ranch.

“Today they made clear to me that they recognize that our long-standing relationship is strong, it is beneficial and that we can find a way forward,” said Phillips, the fund’s executive director. He spoke with the Journal by phone after the meeting in Santa Fe.

Historically, the Ladder Ranch, near the Gila National Forest, provided pen space for wolves being released into, or removed from, the wild by the federal government ever since the program to reintroduce the endangered Mexican wolf began in 1998.

There are no wolves at the ranch now, Phillips said.

“It sounded like they were likely to provide a permit in the future, but delay is not the friend of the Mexican wolf,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s been almost a year in which the Ladder Ranch’s facilities have been unavailable.”

The state and the federal government have been at odds over the reintroduction program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is tasked with reintroducing wolves to the wild in Arizona and New Mexico pursuant to its obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

Last year, the state denied the agency permits to release wolves in New Mexico, citing the lack of a comprehensive recovery plan and other issues. Fish and Wildlife responded by saying it would use its federal authority to override the state if need be.

No wolves have been released in New Mexico since that exchange.

The lack of an up-to-date recovery plan for the species has been a bone of contention for the game departments of the Four Corners states.

Gov. Susana Martinez and her counterparts in Arizona, Utah and Colorado sent a letter last fall to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel and Fish and Wildlife Director Daniel Ashe demanding a new plan.

The game departments of Arizona and New Mexico are jointly suing Fish and Wildlife to get one done.

The original recovery plan dates to the 1980s, before the reintroduction program started. Fish and Wildlife has three times started an effort to write a new plan – but none has come to fruition.

Another attempt to create a recovery plan got underway in December. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey has said the agency’s goal is to develop a recovery plan that is “legally sufficient and science-based by the end of 2017.”

Phillips said he may submit a new application to host wolves at the Ladder Ranch that will aim to restart the ranch’s work and simultaneously satisfy some of the commission’s concerns with respect to wolf releases by Fish and Wildlife.


This article was published in the Albuquerque Journal.

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Letters Needed!


Please write a letter to the editor in support of
approving Turner Ranch’s permit renewal.

The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers. Tips and talking points for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few of the talking points below rather than trying to include them all.

This story was covered by several news sources throughout the region.  Write one letter and send a slightly revised version to each paper.  (Just change the opening line… E.g. “Thanks to the ABQ Journal for your article”, or “Thanks to the Santa Fe New Mexican for your article…”)

Submit your Letter to the Editor of the Albuquerque Journal HERE

This story was also reported in these news sources:

NM Game Commission denies Turner ranch a wolf permit – Las Cruces Sun-News, NM
Submit your Letter to the Editor HERE.

New Mexico Game Commission votes down wolf permit – The Santa Fe New Mexican, NM
Submit your Letter to the Editor HERE.

New Mexico Game Commission denies Turner ranch a wolf permit – The Roanoke Times, VA
Submit your Letter to the Editor HERE.

Talking Points

  • The actions of the New Mexico Game Commission in denying these permits are petty and violate the public trust. Governor Martinez needs to make this right by getting the Ladder ranch and USFWS permits granted.
  • For 17 years, Ladder Ranch has been an excellent partner in the effort to pull Mexican wolves back from the brink of extinction. US Fish and Wildlife Service must be able to release wolves into New Mexico to improve the dwindling genetic health of the wild population. New Mexico Game Commission has given no good reasons for denying the Ladder Ranch or USFWS permits because it has none-only a desire to block the recovery of these native wolves. These decisions should be reversed.
  • At last official count, only 110 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world. Actions such as NM Game Commission’s unwarranted denial of the Ladder Ranch and USFWS permits will only further complicate efforts to recover these rare wolves.
  • The New Mexico Game Commission, under Governor Martinez, has clearly become a tool of a small anti-wolf minority and its actions are out of touch with the majority of New Mexico voters who support wolf recovery and understand the important role top carnivores play in our ecosystems.
  • Wolves are a benefit to the West and are essential to restoring the balance of nature. Actions to interfere with the Mexican gray wolf’s survival and recovery cheat us all of the opportunity to have wolves returned to their critical natural role.
  • Mexican gray wolves are unique native animals. They are the rarest, most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America and the most endangered wolf in the world. State and federal agencies should do all in their power to move these special wolves away from extinction towards recovery. Instead, Martinez's Game Commission has chosen play politics with the wolves’ future.
  • Wolves generate economic benefits - a University of Montana study found that visitors who come to see wolves in Yellowstone contribute roughly $35.5 million annually to the regional economy. New Mexico stands to benefit from wolf-related tourism, but only if the Mexican wolf reintroduction is allowed to succeed.
  • The livestock industry has a responsibility to share public lands with wolves and other wildlife. Wolves are responsible for less than 1% of livestock losses and there are many tried and true methods to avoid conflicts between livestock and wolves. Responsible managers and livestock owners emphasize conflict avoidance instead of scapegoating wolves.
  • The federal government nearly drove the Mexican gray wolf to extinction in the 1900’s. We have a moral responsibility to do all we can to ensure these wolves do not go extinct and NM Game Commission is ignoring that sacred charge and their public trust responsibility.
  • Governor Martinez and her Game Commission should not be interfering with the rights of a responsible landowner to use his private land to aid wolf recovery.
Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for publishing this article.
  • Submit your letter as soon as possible. The chance of your letter being published declines after a day or two since the article was published.
  • Do not repeat any negative messages, such as “so and so said that wolves kill too many cows, but…”  Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article.
  • Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 words.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.” Don’t be afraid to be personal and creative.
  • Provide your name, address, phone number and address.  The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.

  • Submit your letter to the ABQ Journal here.
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Want to do more to help save Mexican wolves?

Tell Governor Martinez: Stop Taking Aim at Endangered Wolves

Contact the Governor’s office
and request respectfully that she put an end to her Commission’s anti-carnivore state wildlife policies, grant the Mexican wolf permits to Ladder Ranch and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and rescind the rule giving the Commission this authority.

Calls are most effective: 505-476-2200505-476-2200
Email: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx

You can also sign a petition to the Governor here.
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