Southern Rockies Wildlife Advocate, WildEarth Guardians
Greater Gila Guardian
Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project
Senior Staff Attorney, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
ALBUQUERQUE, NM— On July 2nd, the Southwestern Regional Forester upheld a decision to cancel the grazing permit of Craig Thiessen for the Canyon del Buey allotment near Datil, New Mexico. Thiessen pleaded guilty to intentionally trapping and bludgeoning a young Mexican wolf with a shovel on public lands in 2015. Forest Service grazing regulations authorize the agency to revoke the permit of any permittee who is convicted of failing to comply with federal laws relating to the protection of wildlife, including, in this case, the Endangered Species Act.
“When ranchers violate federal law or break the terms of their grazing permits, the Forest Service is absolutely right to revoke their permission to graze on public land,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Mr. Thiessen’s actions violated one of our bedrock environmental laws, shocked and horrified members of the public who want to see wolves recovered, and dealt a blow to New Mexico’s wild lobo population.”
“There is no justice for Mia Tuk, the wolf Mr. Thiessen killed, but there is some measure of justice for our public lands when those who act so brutally face consequences,” said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Public lands ranching is a privilege. Thiessen abused that privilege violently and we’re grateful the Forest Service took action to revoke his permit.”
“The Forest Service got it right and upheld the rule of law,” says Madeleine Carey, greater Gila guardian for WildEarth Guardians. “Far too often, these heavily subsidized ranchers, like the Bundys or Hammonds, are enabled rather than held accountable. We applaud the Forest Service for exercising its authority to protect the public interest on our public lands.”
Thirty-three organizations and twenty individuals joined a letter last June calling for the Forest Service to take this very action, and hundreds of wolf supporters expressed outrage to the agency through phone calls and letters. “The Forest Service’s decision to take this action is a powerful affirmation that wolves belong on public lands and violent permittees do not,” said Judy Calman, senior staff attorney for New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “Federal agencies are charged with making endangered species their highest priority, so the Forest Service is right to make it known that wolves are under its protection”.
The livestock will have to be removed from the Canyon del Buey allotment by the end of August.
Several documents were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and are available, including: a copy of Mr. Thiessen’s guilty plea; a copy of the conservation community’s June 2018 letter urging the agency to revoke Thiessen’s permit; a copy of the Forest Service email to Congressional representatives; and a copy of the Forest Supervisor’s decision to uphold the District Ranger’s decision to revoke Thiessen’s permit.