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In the News: Catron County man pleads guilty to killing Mexican gray wolf

Albuquerque Journal – May 25, 2018 – Your Letters are Needed

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A Catron County man must pay $2,300 in restitution and spend a year on probation after pleading guilty to killing a Mexican gray wolf, an endangered species.

Craig Thiessen’s restitution payments will go to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, federal prosecutors announced in a news release Friday.

According to the release, Thiessen, 46, admitted that in February 2015 “he intentionally captured a Mexican gray wolf in a trap on his grazing allotment in the Gila National Forest and hit the wolf with a shovel.  Thiessen admitted knowing that the animal was a Mexican gray wolf because it bore a tracking collar, which is affixed to all Mexican gray wolves in the area.”

This article was published in the Albuquerque Journal.

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Show your support for Mexican wolves with a Letter to the Editor today!

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 for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.  Don’t try to include all the talking points in your letter.

Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
  • Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000. A year's probation and a $2,300 fine is not justice, nor a deterent to other would-be wolf murderers.  Thiessen intentionally trapped and killed a known endangered species.
  • Thiessen grazes cattle on a Gila National Forest allotment called Canyon Del Buey, and has received over $300,000 of taxpayer money since 2015 in livestock subsidies. Just this year, NMDGF planned a $59,000 project on the allotment Thiessen uses to further subsidize his public lands grazing business. Grazing cattle on public land is not a right, but a licensed privilege, the terms of which include complying with all federal laws. Thiessen’s admitted bludgeoning of Mia Tuk is a clear violation of the ESA, and his illegal act therefore forfeited his grazing privileges.
  • Trappers are required to call New Mexico Game and Fish to report the capture of a wolf.  They are also supposed to carry a catch pole to restrain animals that need to be released.  If the animal can't be released safely, even a non-endangered cougar or bear, the trapper is required to call NMG&F for assistance.
  • Far too many endangered Mexican gray wolves are illegally killed every year. Wolf-killers set recovery back and cause the recovery program to cost taxpayers more everytime a valuable endangered species is killed.
  • This is the first prosecution of a wolf-killer since 2011. More should be done by the federal government to deter illegal killings of endangered species.
  • Mexican gray wolves are critically endangered and every illegal killing does significant damage to the recovery of the species.

Make sure you:

• Thank the paper for publishing the 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 from the article, 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, under 150 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.”

• 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 editor of the Albuquerque Journal.