Press Release: Federal Wolf-Trapping Study Released, Ignored by Department of Game and Fish
Contact: Wendy Keefover, WildEarth Guardians 505.988.9126, Ext. 1162
Santa Fe. Today, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish released the much publicized but withheld wolf-trapping study called, Evaluating Trapping Techniques to Reduce Potential for Injury to Mexican Wolves, after WildEarth Guardians formally requested it from both state and federal government agencies.
While the New Mexico Game Department had full access to this study, it recommended to its Commission that that body lift the trapping ban in the range of the Mexican wolf. As a result, at its July 21, 2011 hearing in Clayton, New Mexico, the Game Commission made an unanimous decision to lift the Richardson-era trapping ban in the range of the Mexican wolf.
“The Game Department’s recommendation in the face of the evidence of the USGS’s wolf-trap study show that the Game Department is not only in collusion with the livestock and trapping industries, it does not understand that its public trust duty is to conserve and protect endangered wildlife,” stated Wendy Keefover of WildEarth Guardians.
Wildlife in New Mexico are afforded protections both under the federal Endangered Species Act and the New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act. They should be conserved from injury and harassment, but the agency charged with their stewardship shrank from its duties as the report reveals:
• The report revealed for the first time that the traps caused two wolf fatalities. It reconfirmed that two more wolves required full-leg amputations, and that one wolf had toes amputated and a “pad removed from the right foot” after sustaining injuries while in a trap.
• The report also revealed that coyote trapping, which the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish wrongfully claims it does not regulate, resulted in five of the trapping incidents (three in New Mexico and two in Arizona), but likely more that could not be verified.
• The most popular type of trap set, the “smooth-jawed, non-laminated steel foothold trap,” caused “consistent” “severe injuries” to wolves. Furthermore, the traps that were not properly staked to secure a wolf in one place resulted in the most injuries.
“The Game Department’s serious negligence with regard to protecting the Mexican wolf raises deep concerns for the public,” Keefover added.
Photo: Three-legged Mexican gray wolf courtesy of the Interagency Field Team