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New Mexico Endangered Species List Comes Up Short – Report Underscores Inadequacy of State Wildlife Conservation Program

July 8, 2004
WildEarth Guardians
In This Release
Santa Fe, NM – July 8. The NM G&F is not adequately protecting the state’s unique natural heritage, according to a report released today by WildEarth Guardians. According to the report by the Santa Fe-based conservation organization, at least 30 species are not listed by the state, including the federally listed lynx, Mexican spotted owl, and Chiricahua leopard frog. WildEarth Guardians released the report in response to the New Mexico Game and Fish Department’s biennial review of the threatened and endangered wildlife program. The group also charged that conservation recommendations provided by the Game and Fish Department are either absent or too vague to be meaningful.

WildEarth Guardians’ report found that eight species that are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, and which naturally occur in New Mexico, are not listed by the state. In addition, wildlife species awaiting federal protection, including the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly, black-tailed prairie dog, and lesser prairie chicken, should be listed at the state level but are not.

“We were shocked to find that animals for whom the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish professes to have conservation programs have not even been flagged as in danger,” stated Dr. Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Listing at the state level is a small but obvious first step signaling the need to reform policies that are ushering native wildlife toward extinction.”

WildEarth Guardians also noted that, given the Bush Administration’s assault on the federal Endangered Species Act, the need for an active state conservation program is acute. The report states, “a strong New Mexico species conservation program should serve as a vibrant complement to Endangered Species Act enforcement at the federal level…while species are in the ‘waiting room’ – i.e., awaiting federal listing – a state listing can provide an important red flag to private parties and government agencies at all levels.”

Dr. Rosmarino also noted that, “At a time when the Western Governors Association is asking the federal government for more state authority over imperiled species, it is imperative that New Mexico step up its species listing and protection efforts.”

Other species not included on the state list include wildlife species that are recognized by state heritage programs to be imperiled and vulnerable. Examples include several types of fish, the Sacramento Mountain Salamander, the Massasauga (a type of rattlesnake), and the Desert Pocket gopher. In addition, Forest Guardians has requested that free-roaming bison entering the state from Mexico be listed as endangered by the state of New Mexico.

The report also concludes that most state listed species have not been provided with any conservation recommendations. This is despite a multitude of threats – including game fish stocking and direct killing – over which the Game and Fish Department has direct control. In addition, WildEarth Guardians urged the Game and Fish Department to participate in National Environmental Policy Act processes regarding land uses on public lands. Opportunities for the state to challenge activities carried out or permitted by federal agencies include oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and logging projects on U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands.

For more information, email nrosmari@fguardians.org or call 505-988-9126×156.

Go here for a copy of WildEarth Guardians report.