Press Release :: Conservation Groups Warn Catron County of Suit for Wolves

SANTA FE, NM. In response to a recently passed Catron County wolf killing ordinance, a coalition of conservation groups today sent the county a formal notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act. The act requires sixty days advance notice before proceeding with litigation.
In their notice, Forest Guardians, Sinapu, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Rewilding Institute state that the ordinance unlawfully undermines federal wolf management by authorizing a county contractor to kill Mexican gray wolves, contrary to the January 12, 1998 Federal Register notice authorizing the reintroduction that year and the 1973 Endangered Species Act under which those regulations were promulgated. The ordinance would increase wolf killing over the already-unsustainable current rate driven largely by federal predator control.

Wolves confronting bison in YellowstoneThe Endangered Species Act entrusts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recover endangered species such as the Mexican wolf. The Fish and Wildlife Service has entered into a memorandum of understanding with five other federal, state, and tribal agencies, which have jointly established policies and procedures for wolf management pursuant to the 1998 federal regulations. These policies include rigid and punitive predator control against wolves that leave an arbitrary political boundary and wolves suspected of livestock depredations. The predator-control oriented policies have prevented the wolf population from reaching its initial target of 102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs by Dec. 31, 2006. Currently there are believed to be 57 wolves in five breeding pairs in the wild.

Catron County Ordinance No. 001-2007 seeks to ratchet up wolf killing on behalf of the livestock industry under the guise of protecting people from wolves. Yet the Endangered Species Act already allows the killing of wolves to protect human life.

While mountain lions, black bears, rattlesnakes and other animals present in Catron County have been known in various locations to attack people, Mexican wolves the smallest subspecies of gray wolf in North America never have.

“Catron County’s ordinance is unlawful and would further set back wolf recovery,” says Melissa Hailey, staff attorney for Forest Guardians. “The Mexican wolf exists only in one population, and in incredibly low numbers. These animals need further protection, not increased persecution.”
The groups’ notice says that unless Catron County rescinds its ordinance, conservationists will seek to have it declared invalid in court. The notice further warns that any attempt to act on the county ordinance will spark suit under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, regardless of whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is prepared to enforce the law.

The Catron County ordinance is one of a series of feckless anti-wolf political gestures undertaken by the livestock industry. A state bill that also conflicts with federal law, dubbed the Little Red Riding Hood Act, fared no better this year than it did when first introduced in the legislature in 2003. An equally histrionic anti-wolf memorial also died due to widespread public opposition. The livestock industry has twice sued to remove all the wolves from the wild, and twice been rebuffed by the courts.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, a co-signatory to today’s notice, warned that Catron County must respect federal supremacy under the U.S. Constitution: “We will not allow vigilante justice to further imperil the lobo,” he said.

For a copy of the groups’ Notice of Intent, Catron County Ordinance No. 001-2007, or other information concerning the federal law governing Mexican wolf management, please contact Melissa Hailey. For additional information regarding the history, biology, and/or current make-up of the Mexican wolf population, please contact Michael Robinson. For more information on the Mexican wolf reintroduction project and/or the role of various federal and state agencies in recovering Mexican wolves, please contact Dave Parsons.


Melissa Hailey, Forest Guardians (505) 988-9126 x159
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity (505) 313-7017
Dave Parsons, The Rewilding Institute (505) 275-1944

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19 responses to “Press Release :: Conservation Groups Warn Catron County of Suit for Wolves

  1. Here is the link to the article about the wolf in Catron County NM. I did not remember correctly, it was a horse it killed.


    Check that out. Headline should read “Cats More Dangerous Than Wolves In Idaho”

  3. Frank, if you ever consider actually being dropped naked in the middle of wolf country, please let me know. Sinapu might be able to build a fundraising event around it! LOL!

  4. “The wolf growled and bared its teeth.” So it didn’t attack, then?

    Just for fun I did a Google search for “deer attacks”. I recommend it. Had a senior friend of mine end up in the hospital a couple years ago when a muley got into his garage at night and spooked. My friend went out to get into his car and got kicked pretty good.

    All wildlife can be dangerous. Most pets can be dangerous (I think goldfish are pretty harmless, unless one gets out on the floor and you slip on it!). All people can potentially be dangerous. Your child is far more likely to fall victim to a human predator than to any in the woods…even if he (she) spends most of their time in the woods.

    I think that it is interesting that thousands of “tenderfoot” city folk hike and backpack in Yellowstone and surrounding wilderness areas (the heart of wolf country) every summer. Many take along their school aged children. The only precautions they take: a quick stop at a ranger station for advice; and, sometimes, a canister of bear spray (rarely used). They all seem to “make it out alive”! Yet some of our “rugged outdoors men”, ranchers, outfitters, hunters etc. are scared to go into the woods without an arsenal because the wolves might get them.

    If I were dropped naked and unarmed in the middle of wolf country, I submit that the wolves would be the least of my problems.

  5. You could basically pick out anything in the world and find someone who has been killed by it. That does not mean there is a trend of this becoming a common ocurrence. I have already presented you with the cdc data of millions of dog attacks per year in this country. If you care about humanity so much why arent you calling for a ban on dogs? I am supposed to be convinced of the danger of wolves by you citing (actually you didnt include a source AGAIN) ONE death?

  6. The wolf that is the subject of this thread not only killed livestock, but they were unable to chase it away from the barn by throwing rocks at it. Obviously shooting at it would have cost them everything they own plus years in prison, unless they could prove an overt attack.
    I presume you read about the young man in Canada that was killed and eaten by wolves last year, is that considered dangerous enough?

  7. Show me some reports or articles that prove wolves are dangerous to people and I will gladly consider your opinion. Why are you so special that you dont have to back up any of your views? Seems kind of cowardly to me…

  8. Nope, I’m not the only person, but I do believe ours are the only states where some idiots went to another country and imported dangerous animals and turned ’em loose to see what would happen. Duh!

  9. Are you the only person in the world living with wildlife? I think that you think so. I feel a lot more comfortable hiking in wolf country than I do walking down the side of a busy street. What are you talking about putting up? You don’t make much sense. The vast majority of wildlife supporters live amongst wildlife and use lands where wildlife are prevalent. You really are narrow minded in trying to pigeon hole all of us into some convenient category that you have created…

  10. Excuses, excuses, excuses, it is the same old environmental BS:
    “we certainly cannot be bothered with living with wildlife, saving energy ourselves, etc, but someone has to sacrifice to save the planet…..and we choose you!”
    Wolves aren’t quite as harmless if you actually had to put up are they? It is only worth it to hear them howl as long as someone else pays the price.

  11. Since when do the people of the United States need to put-up insurance money in anticipation of people being killed by native wildlife? Seriously? I want the livestock industry to provide me with two separate insurance policies then: One in case I am injured or killed by a cow (collision with or trampled by or gored), and one in case I am killed by one of the rabid ranchers that from time-to-time threaten my life for being a wolf advocate.

    On second thought, I don’t want to be on that gravy train. I’ll take my chances. Most of the ranchers that I meet are reasonable people . . .

  12. If someone living in the west does not have a life insurance policy it would be very irresponsible as there are MANY potential causes of death. You could get kicked by a horse, shot by a hunter, trampled by a cow, infection, griz attack, fall while hiking, etc. Wolves are a risk as wild animals are unpredictable (especially if one is sick) but comparatively they are very low on the totem pole of things people should worry about. I would worry more about getting stung by a bee, getting struck by lightening, or getting hit by a car. History is on my side. Wild animals attacks have and will always account for very few human deaths. I live with the same risks as you do marion, yet somehow I manage to overcome my fears and live my life. Maybe you should try doing the same…

  13. Then put your money where your mouth is. Guarantee to pay one million for every wolf caused human death. You insist we can take the risk, because it is no risk, so it shouldn’t be a risk for you either.

  14. I am tired of hearing fearful uninformed people (Marion) make the argument that wolves/coyotes are going to suddenly attack people when dogs attack over 4.7 million people in this country per year!!!! People like her will live next to dogs and have dogs around their families with no fear yet they will cower under their beds in fear that a wild animal will come and get them, something that happens a handful of times a year if that.


  15. Wolves are easier to see in the Lamar and in other parts of Yellowstone than grizzlies are. Sure easier than a moose. They are all too easy for ranchers in NW Wyoming and ranch areas in the other two states to see. One lady had her dog attacked as she walked it to the barn to keep it from being eaten by wolves.
    Are you so sure that they are perfectly safe for the folks that have been forced to live with them for the pleasure of city folk, that you would put up a million dollar life insurance policy in case someone is killed? In other words what risk or cost are you willing to assume?

  16. Do the math! There are literally tens of thousands of people living in close proximity to wild places where wolves roam (e.g. Wyoming, Montana, and the Great Lakes region), and millions of people visiting places like Yellowstone each year. Yet, how many have even seen a wolf or wolves, let alone been killed by one?

  17. So, how many for your yard? You have to figure the number of cows versus the number of wolves. Would you personally be willing to buy the beef or mutton for a wolf? If not why do you feel you have the right to insist that others use their privately owned property to feed them for your entertainment?

  18. Marion,

    Let’s talk about risks for a minute. The latest information that I have indicates that only one person has been killed by wild/non-habituated wolves in North America, and that case is still in question. Yet, according to information from the U.S. Department of Labor, during the period between 1992 and 1997, 303 people were killed by cattle while on the job; and that’s just occupational fatlities, not fatalities caused by vehicle collisions with cows. 303 people in a single five year period.

    It seems that if your concern is about human safety, you’d get a lot more bang for your buck by pushing to end commercial livestock production.

    P.S. The source for the data I cite above is: Druidi, Dino. Fall, 2000. Are Animals Occupational Hazards? Compensation and Working Conditions (Journal)

  19. There was an artilce a couple of months ago about a family in Catron County that came home form town, found confirmed (later) wolf killed calf. The wolf was still hanging around the barn and would not leave even when they threw rocks at it, but growled and bared it’s teeth. Is there no cost, nor risk that you consider too much to impose on other people?