It’s doubtful that people with extreme views on either side of the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan will be satisfied, but a decision earlier this month by the state Game Commission to approve the new federal wolf recovery plan strikes a blow for reason and compromise.
The state in recent years, with the support of ranchers and over the objections of some environmental and wildlife groups, has been locked in a legal struggle seeking to block expanded recovery efforts put forward by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There were some good reasons for that resistance to a laudable goal, including that the federal government kept moving the goalposts as to what constituted recovery, expanding the territory needed to accomplish it and essentially telling rural New Mexicans they needed to cheerfully go along even if they had concerns about livestock predation and in some cases personal safety.
The state went to court last year seeking to block the release of five additional wolves in New Mexico, and that litigation is still pending. Meanwhile, Defenders of Wildlife and others sued U.S. Fish and Wildlife asking that the court order the federal agency to create a new recovery plan – because the old plan hadn’t been formally updated since 1982.
But during a meeting last week, the logjam may have been broken.