NM needs to hold brutal wolf killer responsible

A female Mexican gray wolf released in Arizona under the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
A female Mexican gray wolf released in Arizona under the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

Last year, the American public learned about the brutal killing of an endangered Mexican gray wolf – identified as Mexican wolf No. 1385 of the Willow Springs pack, and named “Mia Tuk” by an Albuquerque schoolchild – by a grazing permittee on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

The news reported that Craig Thiessen pleaded guilty in federal court in May 2018, acknowledging that in 2015 he intentionally captured the young male wolf in a trap and hit the animal with a shovel, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

What we have since learned through documents released under the Freedom of Information Act is that “Mia Tuk” wasn’t just hit with a shovel. Medical examinations of his body showed he was bludgeoned so hard as to shatter his lower jaw and dislocate his teeth. This evidence may contradict Thiessen’s claim he only acted to briefly stun it in order to safely release it from the trap. In fact, it could be proof of severe injury and malice that violates New Mexico’s animal cruelty statute.

“Mia Tuk” deserves the protection of the state animal cruelty law. The animal cruelty statute, Section 30-18-1, applies to all animals except insects or reptiles. “Extreme cruelty to animals” is defined as “intentionally or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning an animal” or “maliciously killing an animal.” The act of breaking a trapped animal’s jaw with a shovel would clearly fit this description. Although the statute exempts lawful hunting, taking and trapping, that exemption would not apply to Thiessen because he knowingly illegally trapped and killed wildlife not permitted under Department of Game & Fish laws and rules.

Unfortunately, despite multiple inquiries and requests made to the local District Attorney and Attorney General’s offices, no extreme cruelty charges have been filed against Theissen thus far. The statute of limitations for extreme animal cruelty is five years – meaning prosecutors have until 2020 to take action.

“Mia Tuk” is just one of many endangered wolves that have been intentionally harmed by humans in recent years – fueled by fear, hatred and opposition to species recovery. In 2018 alone, 21 Mexican wolf deaths were documented. Despite the gradually growing population in the wild – there are now just 131 living in the southwestern U.S. – each individual Mexican wolf is an important contributor to the genetic health of the species. Every unnecessary death is a tragedy not just for that wolf, but for a program in which Americans have invested so much for decades.

But what happened to “Mia Tuk” is about even more than endangered species conservation. It’s also about the heinous, unwarranted, destructive animal cruelty. This is exactly the type of cruelty that must be vigorously condemned by our society. Studies have shown that animal maltreatment is often linked with other vicious crimes, including family and interpersonal violence. State cruelty laws serve to protect animals and the public alike.

Most New Mexicans strongly support wolf recovery in the Southwest and know that wolves are an essential part of the balance of nature. Many people believe the wolf needs greater protections in order to fully recover and that they certainly should not be subject to outright physical abuse. Holding wolf killers accountable under state animal cruelty statutes would be a good start.

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
MMA: Condit, 'Natural Born Killer,' announces retirement
Boxing/MMA
Albuquerque's Carlos Condit, among the most-watched ... Albuquerque's Carlos Condit, among the most-watched and most-admired fighters in the UFC ranks for m ...
2
Prison gang defendant convicted of murder
ABQnews Seeker
Long-running federal racketeering case ends for ... Long-running federal racketeering case ends for Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico
3
Rio Rancho theater group finally premieres 'Our Town'
ABQnews Seeker
Pandemic interrupted debut of the new ... Pandemic interrupted debut of the new troupe
4
Judge rejects challenge to NM vaccine mandate
From the newspaper
Ruling marks the latest legal victory ... Ruling marks the latest legal victory for Gov. Lujan Grisham
5
A makeover for APS board: No incumbents running this ...
ABQnews Seeker
Influential local commercial real estate group ... Influential local commercial real estate group backing three candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot
6
20th century heavyweight: Ken Burns documentary looks into life ...
Boxing/MMA
Ken Burns is one who stays ... Ken Burns is one who stays busy.During the pandemic, the acclaimed filmmaker was worki ...
7
Editorial: State-run prisons are a smart but costly course ...
Editorials
Staffing prisons is often tough. So ... Staffing prisons is often tough. So it was hoped during the administration of former Gov. Gary Johns ...
8
Virtual vision: Albuquerque Film + Music Experience goes online ...
Entertainment
Sixty-six films.Eleven center stage conversations. ... Sixty-six films.Eleven center stage conversations. ...
9
Focus on fitness: Nutritionist writing book on male mental ...
Entertainment
Editor's note: Venue Plus continues "In ... Editor's note: Venue Plus continues "In Case You Didn't Know," a weekly feature with fun tidbits abo ...