A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection
Commissioners pass wolf resolutionURL: http://www.dchieftain.com/news/49776-03-26-05.html
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Amid some praise and some protest, county commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday that may allow Socorro citizens greater power to protect themselves and their livestock from wolves outside of the wolf recovery area.
The resolution also asked that the federal government take into consideration the wishes of the county to not expand the wolf recovery area beyond its current borders.
The resolution states that Mexican gray wolves released under the Federal Wolf Recovery Program, starting in 1998, have killed livestock located on private land in the county but outside the designated recovery areas.
Currently, federal law prohibits the killing of gray wolves unless the animals are in the act of attacking humans or livestock.
At a previous county commission meeting, Arch "Buck" Wilson, who owns a cattle ranch in western Socorro County, near Magdalena, gave commissioners a letter signed by approximately 50 ranchers in the Magdalena and San Mateo Mountain region requesting that U.S. Fish and Wildlife recapture a pair of Mexican wolves from the area and return them to the designated recovery area. The letter also stated that the ranchers did not want the recovery boundaries to be expanded as Gov. Bill Richard has indicated he wants to do.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish stated in a recent press release that the pair of wolves will be captured and removed from the San Mateo Mountains. They will be relocated to an area inside the recovery area.
Wilson thanked the board for passing the resolution March 22 though he questioned the vagueness of what constitutes a threat by wolves to humans and livestock.
Luther Broaddus, who also owns ranch property outside of Magdalena, said the resolution was a good idea, but felt it needed more teeth and said it was not aggressive enough to met the needs of county citizens.
Broaddus echoed Wilson in saying the resolution was vague in defining what a threat is concerning wolves. He said he felt any wolf outside the recovery area was a threat to humans and livestock and that people should have a right to kill the wolves found outside the designated area..
Wilson said the wolves are still protected outside the recovery area.
Commissioner Jay Santillanes said they could not supercede federal law and said they were getting into tricky territory in talking about killing an endangered species.
He was quick to say that the resolution is just a start and said the commissioners can follow-up on the issue as the government sees where the county stands concerning the recovery are and wolves that threaten humans and livestock.
Broaddus agreed with Santillanes but said the resolution should have been more aggressive and precise on what constitutes a threat by a wolf. He said the commission would be no worse off by making stronger demands to the government and said they could only be rejected.
Commissioners passed the resolution as it was.
In other business:
-- Commissioners allowed the USGS to place a water meter on the bridge at Escondido.
-- Commissioners voted to go ahead and look into the possibility of zoning Socorro County, with Rosie Tripp opposed. Donna Harris spoke at the meeting, asking the commissioners to not move ahead with zoning plans. Among her reasons to stay zone-free, Harris reminded the commissioners that the county had attempted to try zoning a few years ago with no results, except for the loss of $500,000 in costs. According to the Property Rights Foundation of America Inc., there are several drawbacks to having zoning, including that zoning raises taxes and lowers property values and that it can be restrictive.