The New Mexico State Game Commission voted yesterday to end cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in its effort to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf, according to a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity. The decision might mark a major victory for ranchers and other groups who have strongly opposed the reintroduction program, but wolf proponents argue that the move will damage efforts to facilitate co-existence between wolves and people.
In 1998, 11 captive-bred wolves were released by USFWS on federal land in New Mexico near the Arizona border, in the hope that they would help stabalize an imbalanced ecosystem and revitalize an endangered species. Similar reintroductions had been shown to work elsewhere, but in New Mexico the wolves have fared poorly and, with so many ranches nearby, wolves became a menace to livestock. The battle has raged ever since.
A June 6 letter from wolf advocates to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez countered that ranchers' concerns were overblown and warned that the endangered wolf could face extinction without the continued support of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.