Protections sought for coyotes in wolf territory - Albuquerque Journal

Protections sought for coyotes in wolf territory

A 7-year-old Mexican grey wolf walks in an enclosure at Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood, N.M., on Nov., 17, 2002. (Randy Siner/Albuquerque Journal)

Environmentalists want the U.S. government to list coyotes as endangered in parts of Arizona and New Mexico, where the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America is found.

A coalition of groups argues in a petition submitted Thursday to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that small-statured Mexican gray wolves are often mistaken for coyotes and that protecting coyotes would in turn cut down on wolf deaths.

Environmentalists say illegal killings are the leading cause of death for the endangered animals.

The petition pointed to cases in which Mexican wolves have been killed by people who said they believed they were killing a coyote. This misidentification invokes a federal policy that effectively protects a person from prosecution because it requires the government to prove that a defendant knew they were killing an endangered species when they pulled the trigger.

“It’s an outrage that merely saying ‘I thought it was a coyote’ serves as a get-out-of-jail-free card for anyone who shoots one of these highly imperiled animals,” said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity. Ranchers argue there are more Mexican wolves roaming the Southwest now than any time since recovery began more than two decades ago, and that rural communities continue to bear the costs of livestock losses due to wolf reintroduction.

Loren Patterson, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, said Thursday that his group learned last week that Mexican wolves were located north of Interstate 40 as well as in the Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque.

FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2019, photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, members of the Mexican gray wolf recovery team gather data from a wolf captured during an annual census near Alpine, Ariz. A coalition of groups argue in a petition submitted Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that small statured Mexican gray wolves are often mistaken for coyotes and that protecting coyotes would in turn cutdown on wolf deaths. (Mark Davis/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)

As the wolf population expands, more human interaction and incidental wolf deaths should be expected, Patterson said.

“To hamper our recreational and agriculture communities by protecting an unregulated furbearer is unjustified,” he said. “The livestock industry is still not being made whole by wolf depredations and to add the inability to control problem coyote populations would just add to a tense situation between the endangered species and the people that live within the recovery zone.”

He suggested real-time location maps of collared wolves, hunter education and reimbursing the full value of livestock killed by wolves would be better options for addressing the problem.

While the petition acknowledges that it’s unknown how many Mexican gray wolves are killed in cases of real or alleged mistaken identity, the environmental groups argue that publications and posters encouraging hunters to learn the difference haven’t helped.

There are at least 196 Mexican gray wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona, according to the most recent survey. It marked the sixth straight year the population has increased.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal wildlife officials can make a determination to protect a species that is neither endangered nor threatened when it closely resembles an endangered or threatened species.

A key consideration would be the degree of difficulty wildlife agents and other enforcement personnel would have in distinguishing the species. The petition points to a case in 2013 in which a wildlife specialist shot and killed a wolf, thinking it was a coyote.

Coyotes can be hunted year-round in Arizona and New Mexico with no requirement for a hunting license.

Republican Sen. Crystal Diamond of Elephant Butte raised her daughters on a ranch in wolf territory and she said she knows firsthand about the challenges facing southwestern New Mexico. She called the coyote proposal absurd, saying environmentalists have been trying to weaponize the Endangered Species Act and that such proposals make it more difficult to find a middle ground.

“What this does is further discredit the value and the intent of what the Endangered Species Act was created to do,” she said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service must decide whether to consider the petition.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Protections sought for coyotes in wolf territory

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Church helps kids in Ukraine, Uganda
ABQnews Seeker
Although Ukraine and Uganda are worlds ... Although Ukraine and Uganda are worlds away from Albuquerque, one local church has not forgotten about the children in those troubled lands. Calvary Church's ...
2
Bill would allow New Mexico cities, counties, tribes to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The proposed legislation would allow local ... The proposed legislation would allow local governments to take over electric generation from privately run utilities.
3
Find out when Luke Bryan's tour will make a ...
ABQnews Seeker
The critically acclaimed country singer and ... The critically acclaimed country singer and "American Idol" judge will hit the road on his 36-city "Country On Tour" beginning June 15.
4
Super Bowl 57: Chiefs, Eagles meet for title in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Patrick Mahomes finally got the best ... Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. All he needed was a little shove. Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with ...
5
Remote work is not just a trend, but a ...
ABQnews Seeker
A lot of companies have realized ... A lot of companies have realized that letting people work remotely can translate into a savings on salaries.
6
Photos: 205th New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy class begin ...
ABQnews Seeker
7
Largest police cadet class in years seated in Santa ...
ABQnews Seeker
The 205th New Mexico Law Enforcement ... The 205th New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy class has 64 prospective officers. The class is shaping up to be the largest in years.
8
New Mexico seems determined to extend class time. What ...
ABQnews Seeker
Three competing proposals are on the ... Three competing proposals are on the table
9
In the near future, clean geothermal energy could heat ...
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico's Utility ... The University of New Mexico's Utility Services Department could in the near future he ...