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Conservation Groups Urge Governor Martinez to Remove Bidegain, Espinosa from New Mexico Game Commission

February 5, 2014
Bethany Cotton 503.327.4923
In This Release

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Conservation Groups Urge Governor Martinez to Remove Bidegain, Espinosa from New Mexico Game Commission

Officials Participate and Endorse Coyote Killing Contests
Contact: Bethany Cotton 503.327.4923

Additional Contacts:

Contacts: Kevin Bixby, Southwest Environmental Center 575 522-5552
Mary Katherine Ray, Sierra Club 575-772-5655

Nine conservation organizations with thousands of members in New Mexico are calling upon New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to remove two individuals from their positions on theNew Mexico Game Commission for participating in and organizing coyote-killing contests.

In a letterdated February 5th, the groups urged the Governor to removeChairman Scott Bidegain and Commissioner Robert Espinosa: Bidegainfor competing in a majorcoyote killing contest inNevada last December, in which he and his partner killed eight coyotes and won $1300 in cash, and Espinosa for his role in organizing coyote killing contests in New Mexico while serving as executive director of the anti-predator group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife—NM Chapter.

“By their actions, these two officials have demonstrated a callous disrespect for wildlifeand betrayed the public trust placedin themto manage and conserve New Mexico’s wildlife for the benefit of all the state’s residents,” said Kevin Bixby, ExecutiveDirector of the Southwest Environmental Center. “The Governor should replace them immediately with individuals who will take their stewardship responsibility seriously.”

Coyotes help to maintain the balance of natural ecosystems by controlling populations of prey species, including rodents that sometimes carry human diseases, such as Hantavirus and plague. Research shows that indiscriminate control efforts have no effect on overall coyote numbers, but cause suffering to individual animals, disrupt family pack structure and can actually increase coyote conflicts with livestock.

“Their actions demonstrate ignorance of the important, scientifically-established role predators such as coyotes play in natural ecosystems, and indicate an extreme view of wildlife killing formere entertainment and to win prizes which has no place on the Game Commission,” said Mary Katherine Ray, Wildlife Chair of the Rio Grande Chapter of the SierraClub.

“That state game commissioners would condone, let alone participate in killing contestsdemonstrates incredible ignorance of basic wildlife science and should lead to their dismissal from public office,” said Bethany Cotton,wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians.

The groups included: Southwest Environmental Center, SierraClub: Rio Grande Chapter, The Rewilding Institute, Project Coyote, WildEarth Guardians, Sandia Mountain BearWatch, Conservation Voters of New Mexico, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and the CenterforBiological Diversity.

Other Contact
Contacts: Kevin Bixby, Southwest Environmental Center 575 522-5552Mary Katherine Ray, Sierra Club 575-772-5655
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