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by Caren Cowan

Oxymorons & Other Jollies or not  . . .

We are fortunate to have a wide circle of friends who supply many emails keeping us abreast of the wide variety of issues in the U.S. and around the world. As you can imagine, there is precious little good news or even common sense.

Sometimes the messages are funny . . . even while being so sad. One of them last month read “Poisoning fish in the Virgin River.” Really??? A virgin river cannot escape the poison?

This is just more of game management agencies, federal and state, exercising their God-like powers in determining what wildlife had the right to live and which must be killed in the name of “preservation.” It has been going on for many years. The latest battle ground for the issue in New Mexico is in Sierra County where the Turner folks are in league with game agencies asking (loose term) for access on to private lands for the poisoning.

The hammer in the deal is the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If enough streams are not poisoned in the name of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the fish will be listed and private property use will be impacted.

Never mind that the brown and rainbow trout currently in the stream have been there for a century or more . . . to quote Irene Lee, former Water Quality Control Commissioner, “makes one wonder what it takes to be native.” Never mind that the runoff from last year’s Silver Fire and fires yet to come will surely foul the stream in the months to come.

Even sillier is the fact that the government pays people to collect the released fish when fire and floods come.

Wolf Wars – An Update

Moving into its third decade, the Mexican wolf reintroduction program continues to plague ranch families in New Mexico and Arizona. Not only are the wolves and their impacts devastating on the health and well being, but the continued war of words initiated by the bumbling efforts of the federal government are stretching people to the breaking point.

As a brief recap, early last summer the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) began rule-making and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects relating to the wolf and other species. They are trying to comply with a federal settlement entered into by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) that was supposed to give the FWS a break from the ceaseless litigation from radical groups. Apparently DOJ doesn’t do opposition research. All they did was put a noose around the neck of the FWS and hard working rural Americans. The settlement bound the FWS to impossible deadlines while there are no such constraints put on the radicals. Not to mention that only one group was involved in the agreement.

As the outcries from real people continued, the FWS extended some deadlines all the way to mid December. Somewhere along the way in some bureaucrat’s infinite wisdom, the decision was made to seek a scientific peer review of the science that was relied upon for the rule-making. You might imagine that there would have been enough wisdom for the agency to select scientists that would support agency actions. Not so much.

The peer review was highly critical of the basis for the FWS actions. The agency then opened yet another comment period that closed late in March.

There were initially two (2) processes, one addressing the delisting of wolves, the other addressing changes in the Mexican wolf program. Although common sense would tell you that if science was flawed in one process it would most surely be in both. Not the logical conclusion of the FWS. The comments were only for the delisting process.

Over the past many months it has been clear that no matter what the FWS does, they are in for more litigation. Radical groups have been vocal about it. The people impacted will have no choice.

It isn’t so

Further mudding the water is the Wolf Interdiction Council established by FWS Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle a few years ago. The purpose of the group was to try and go back to the people on the ground and try to work from there up . . . which should have happened in the inception of the program rather than simply turning violent predators out on the landscape with no concern about the outcome for the people or the wolves. It also was supposed to be a vehicle for those who want wolves to put their money where their mouth is. The council’s activities to aide ranchers are to be funded by donations.

From the outset, it was made clear that the ranching community have paid a tremendous price for the program thus far. The money for the aide would not be coming out of the pockets of families who are losing tens of thousands of dollars a year to the wayward animals. This was/is the opportunity for those urbanites who think animals they don’t have to live with to contribute. Did anyone really think that would happen?

The council is made up of ranchers, their representatives, wolf officials and radical groups. It has been meeting for some time and has morphed into a Coexistence Council. While that term maybe linguistically correct it is unfortunate and angers those in the ranching community.

In late March the FWS unveiled the Council and its website in a press release. Again the linguistics may have been correct in the press release, the interpretation by the media has not been.

NOTHING has changed in perception or policy regarding the Mexican wolf program in the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) or any other agricultural organization that we know of. Any policy changes regarding the wolf with NMCGA will take a request from membership followed by committee deliberation and board of directors action. It is worth noting that all NMCGA board meetings are open to all members (with the reservation that an executive session is possible in the event necessary).

We will go to work to correct the misconceptions of the media. By and large the New Mexico media is always willing to listen to ranch families and we appreciate that.

In late breaking news . . .

Those fine folks CBD (who also brought you the endangered species condoms for Valentine’s Day a few years ago) embarked on a new “kill the rancher” campaign the last week in March. The group hopes to persuade Americans to cut back on their meat consumption, according to Eliza Barclay, www.npr.org. Their pitch? Eat less meat and you will help save wildlife.

Their “Take Extinction off the plate” push argues that the livestock industry has been responsible for the near extinction of iconic species like the Mexican gray wolf and the California grizzly bear. And that, combined with the industry’s other significant contributions to climate change and habitat loss, warrants a movement to replace at least some of the meat in the American diet with plants, the group says.

On the lighter side . . .

For the lack of an invitation we didn’t make the Albuquerque red carpet premier of 50 to 1 . . . the movie about New Mexico’s Kentucky Derby Winner, Mine That Bird. We made a rare trek to the movie theater the following Friday to see one of the first public showings in Albuquerque.

Running into a group of Brazilian bull riders coming out of the Brazilian restaurant next to the theater started the outing off well! As close to the PBR we got that weekend.

But we digress . . . the movie was well worth paying for. There was not ANY foul language, sex or violence. It is a movie you can take your kids and your grandparents to.

Sam Britt had a part at the beginning and he was the real Sam . . . enjoying a good bar fight and a good drink. Great job Sam!

The leading actors all played their parts well. The story lacked some in depth . . . If you don’t know New Mexico, one would believe that all we do here is drink heavily and fight in bars (and we must admit we have been in some of those bars filmed), shop at Walmart and drive either REALLY fancy or REALLY old vehicles.

The casting of Bobby Baffort and his wife was less than kind and the portrayal of Bobby was just plain mean. Bobby is a lively character, but we have known him for more years than we care to admit and he isn’t a mean or rude person.

It is worth knowing that Bobby ran Real Quiet in New Mexico before he won the Derby in 1998. When asked why he would run such a great horse on a bush track in New Mexico (Santa Fe Downs) . . . He responded, “Bush track, heck, racing is tough out West.”

Take the family out and enjoy the movie . . . there are few you can do that with now days.

Be there or be . . .

n New Mexico’s first AgriFuture Educational Institute will be held May 12 through 14 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. See the ad and the story in this magazine for registration and sponsorship information.

n The 2014 Indian Livestock Days will be held May 14 through 16 at the Rt. 66 Casino. Watch next month, Facebook and your email for schedule and registration information.

n The 2014 Mid Year meeting for NMCGA, New Mexico Wool Growers, New Mexico CowBelles, New Mexico Federal Lands Council and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau will be held June 8 through 10 in Las Cruces. Registration material will be available soon.

n The 2014 New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp will be held June 8 through 13 at the Valles Caldera. See the press release in this magazine for registration information.

n Have you liked or followed the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ and the New Mexico Stockman on Facebook? Between the two pages, we have nearly 10,000 people getting the message!