As demonstrated yet again by his recent commentary, “Latest Wolf Rule Puts New Mexicans in Danger,” the facts and Rep. Steve Pearce don’t have a very close relationship.
Despite Rep. Pearce’s fear-mongering, expanding the small Mexican gray wolf population of about 100 wolves will hardly put people or their livelihoods in danger, something the congressman could have learned from the hundreds of his constituents who attended a public hearing last August in Truth or Consequences to voice their support for the wolves.
These voters represent an overwhelming majority compared to the naysayers, like Rep. Pearce, who make up the tiny minority of New Mexicans unwilling to take even the most meager steps to share our landscape with these ecologically important animals that historically inhabited the Land of Enchantment.
Unfortunately, contrary to Rep. Pearce’s assertions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent rule-change to expand the still-restricted portions of New Mexico and Arizona where Mexican wolves will be allowed to live actually creates a more liberal standard for killing wolves – bad news for a critically endangered mammal that is already needlessly gunned down on far too many occasions with no consequences.
Rep. Pearce characterizes the new rule intended to expand the Mexican wolf’s struggling population as “litigation-driven” disenfranchisement of southern New Mexicans, which is like suggesting that by writing tickets for unsafe driving, police disenfranchise citizens.
In fact, quite the opposite is true: Individuals and conservation groups petitioning the federal government to follow the science-based standards of the Endangered Species Act play an essential role in ensuring that we’re a nation ruled by law.
When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act 41 years ago last month, it realized that special interests and short-sighted politicians would seek to undermine protections. To combat that, Congress wisely included a provision in the Act allowing citizens to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service when it breaks the law and fails to follow the timely steps prescribed by the Act to prevent wildlife and native plants from going extinct -- something the Act has successfully done for a remarkable 99 percent of the species it protects.
It’s not only in the best interest of Mexican gray wolves that we follow those laws, but in the best long-term environmental and economic interests of all New Mexicans, and all Americans.
Doing otherwise will ensure that we have no balance at all.
This guest column was published on KRWG’s website on January 22, 2015.
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Members of Congress are moving forward with attempts to reduce protections for some or all gray wolves through legislation. Even though Mexican wolves have their own Endangered Species Act listing and are not yet included in such legislation or riders, any legislation that delists wolves weakens the Endangered Species Act and threatens all wolves. Please urge your representatives to protect wolves and the Endangered Species Act today!
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