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Game Commission Sets Arbitrary Cougar Quotas

Date
October 28, 2010
Contact
Wendy Keefover-Ring (505) 988-9126 x1162
In This Release
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Thursday, October 28, 2010
Game Commission Sets Arbitrary Cougar Quotas

Wildlife Advocates Decry Reckless Wildlife Policy
Contact: Wendy Keefover-Ring (505) 988-9126 x1162

RUIDOSO Today, the New Mexico Game Commission adopted an arbitrary cougar quota of 742 recommended by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in an 11th hour move,despite objections from wildlife advocates who were urging them to maintain the status quo of current management levels. Advocates were pleased, however, that the Commission ordered a mandatory hunter education program designed to protect breeding females, the biological bank account, and to protect their dependent kittens from orphaning. The online education program, passed at the groups’ request, will help cougar hunters and outfitters distinguish between the sexes—a distinction not obvious to the untrained eye.

Under current management, total cougar mortality per year is limited to 490. The Game and Fish proposals, released in July and slightly modified in August, would have doubled the number of cougars allowed to be killed, and trebled the kill of females in an attempt to further reduce the stability of New Mexico’s cougar population. WildEarth Guardians, Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM), and Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club have urged the Game Commission and the public to reject the agency’s proposal as unsubstantiated and irresponsible and to maintain the status quo on hunting levels. Ever since the draft regulations were first published, the groups have provided volumes of credible evidence against the extreme recommendations made by the Department. The groups also created the website ProtectNMCougars.com to organize opposition to the Game & Fish proposals.

“All along, we’ve been urging the Commission to set cougar management using best available science,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians. “The new quota is unsustainable, arbitrary and without even the pretense of justification.”

The new kill limit represents a reversal of several years of collaboration between the Game Commission and conservation organizations, which produced sound estimates based on published data and analysis for the first time in New Mexico in the past decade.

“Even the minimal checks and balances currently protecting New Mexico’s wildlife were simply thrown out the window today,” said Phil Carter of APNM. “With this action the commission failed to send a decisive message to Department staff to ensure survival of the state’s cougar population.”

Other Contact
Under current management, total cougar mortality per year is limited to 490. The Game and Fish proposals, released in July and slightly modified in August, would have doubled the number of cougars allowed to be killed, and trebled the kill of females in an attempt to further reduce the stability of New Mexico’s cougar population. WildEarth Guardians, Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM), and Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club have urged the Game Commission and the public to reject the agency’s proposal as unsubstantiated and irresponsible and to maintain the status quo on hunting levels. Ever since the draft regulations were first published, the groups have provided volumes of credible evidence against the extreme recommendations made by the Department. The groups also created the website ProtectNMCougars.com to organize opposition to the Game & Fish proposals.

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