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Turner ranch wolf appeals delayed

SANTA FE – Ted Turner’s appeals of state permit denials for the wolf-holding facility at Ladder Ranch have been put on hold for at least another month.

The Turner Endangered Species Fund, which had been on the agenda for the Aug. 27 meeting of the state Game Commission, asked for the delay, said the fund’s executive director, Mike Phillips.

Phillips said the problem was scheduling conflicts for the Turner employees.

“I can’t get the proper team in place for that meeting and so we requested a postponement,” Phillips said Friday. “I feel very strongly the best thing I can do is make sure that we’re ready.”

He said the presentation could be rescheduled for Game Commission meetings on Sept. 29 or Nov. 19.

Another wolf-related item remains on the Aug. 27 agenda: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is appealing the state Department of Game and Fish’s denial of permits to release Mexican wolves, including pups intended to bolster the genetics of the population in the wolf recovery program.

Turner’s Ladder Ranch in Sierra County has been permitted by the state Department of Game and Fish for 17 years to hold wolves in large pens, either readying them for release into the wild by the federal government or because they had been removed from the wild.

The Game Commission denied a permit renewal in May.

Gov. Susana Martinez, who appoints the commission, said the federal government’s 33-year-old wolf recovery plan is outdated and should be revamped. The same reason was given when the department rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s request last month.

The second request from Turner’s fund was to shift six captive wolves from the federal Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico to the Ladder Ranch while maintenance work was being done at Sevilleta. That request was made under the fund’s current permit, which Phillips said runs through 2016.

The department objected to the Ladder Ranch’s management practices, saying they potentially predisposed the wolves to nuisance behavior once the animals were released.