Dear Fellow Members and Industry Supporters,

On August 27th an overflow crowd of at least 200 people gathered in Santa Fe for a State Game Commission meeting. The two agenda items that drew the large crowd were proposed changes to the Bear and Cougar Rules, and an appeal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of a decision made by Department of Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval to not renew a permit previously issued to the Ladder Ranch. The permit had allowed for the importation and temporary holding of Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico before their release into the state’s forests but there are concerns that the wolves are creating a conflict with the management of the state’s wildlife and the FWS lacks a recovery plan for the wolf.

The Department’s presentations on these issues were well reasoned, complete and science based. The Game Commission deferred action on the wolf issue until their September meeting to allow the FWS to supplement the record, although it appears that the FWS has no standing given that they were not the ones whose request for a permit was denied. They did take action on the Bear and Cougar Rule proposals presented by the Department though, sending the impassioned crowd into a frenzy.

Numerous people started screaming threats and other sordid remarks at the commissioners, stopping the meeting for several minutes while the mob filed out of the room. I have been to countless meetings over the years, many of them controversial, but I had never seen such a lack of decorum as what I witnessed at that meeting. It was downright scary to see such a large group of people act so irrationally.

What I realized though, is that we have a lot of otherwise educated people who live in a large rural state who don’t understand anything about wildlife management, nor the needs of the ranchers and others who make a living off the vast expanses of land surrounding the urban centers, where these folks live. They have no empathy for the people who are being put out of business because of insurmountable losses they’ve taken at the hands of predators such as wolves, coyotes, cougars and bears. All they have is an irrational emotional attachment to the fairy tale notion that wild animals and nature would exist in a perfect symbiotic relationship, were it not for man’s interference. I wonder if it wasn’t all the Walt Disney animal movies they watched that created this behavior.

It appears that not only people can act irrationally but so can federal agencies. You’ll recall that I’ve written in opposition to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule on several occasions. The rule, promulgated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was to take effect on August 28 however a federal judge in the District of North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction on August 27 stating that the parties who filed suit against the EPA “have demonstrated that they will face irreparable harm” if the rule were to go into effect. He also said that it appears the EPA “has violated its Congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the Rule at issue.” Undaunted by the judicial order, the EPA defiantly stated that it would implement the rule in all the states which were not part of the lawsuit filed in North Dakota. Thankfully the New Mexico Environment Department and State Engineer were part of that suit, so the EPA’s usurpation of state authority won’t take effect in New Mexico for now. The move to implement the rule in some states and not others is certainly unprecedented and equally unjustifiable. It’s also irrational.

The EPA also made headlines recently for turning both the Animas and San Juan Rivers  a pale orange color when one of its contractors accidentally released about three million gallons of heavy metals into the water. As I understand the situation, from speaking with folks in that part of the state, it appears that the event was not as dire as what we all expected during the days immediately following the spill, and that’s a good thing since we usually have more challenges than we can handle.

I hope you can make it to the State fair this month to see the young men and ladies show their animals. This is the culmination of all their hard work and I’m sure that having an appreciative audience will make their efforts all the more meaningful.                       

Hasta pronto,

José Varela López