Humpback Tales: The More things Change...
by Stephen Capra
So the word is there is a job opening at New Mexico’s Game and Fish Department. Not just any job, mind you, but the opening to be the new Director of Game and Fish. It’s been interesting to see how quiet Game and Fish has been lately, while the public has been expressing their outrage at the complete dysfunction not just of this agency, but of the so-called commission that oversees their actions.
So we are down to four finalists, all of whom have at least master’s degrees. Well that’s a step up from the former good old boy network; fill out your application in pencil on yellow legal paper. I am sure once the hire is made we will hear things like “restoring confidence” and “turning a new page.”
Yet, fundamentally, we are not likely to see any real change until the commission that oversees this agency is demolished, reformed, changed, or dissolved to name just a few. Giving Governor Martinez a voice in the selection will only perpetuate the window dressing or whitewash that will define this next choice. The loser in all of this is wildlife: the bears, wolves, bobcats and other non-game species that this agency will continue to kill at unsustainable levels to feed the trough of outfitters and whiny slob-hunters and ranchers that want anything that shares the land with cows, deer and elk dead.
For the past year, Bold Visions Conservation has made this issue our first priority, meeting with members of the state legislature, penning editorials in the Albuquerque Journal and meeting with other conservation groups to find the right formula to stop the endless trapping, killing and lack of science that seems to guide this agency.
In the past week we have asked for your questions to the finalists to present to the agency along with close to 10,000 signatures that demand reform. What many people cannot seem to understand in this debate is that this agency and ones just like in across the country hold amazing power and sway with elected officials and in controlling what lives and dies and how on our state and public lands.
In Montana and Idaho they are responsible for the slaughtering wolves. In South Carolina, they still allow Bear Baying, which is simply legal torture. In most states this agency basically works for ranching and oil interests or in the east for hunting interests and outfitters.
What continues to be missing is reforming this agency into one that does what’s best for the land, for wildlife and for maintaining biodiversity in light of the dramatic shift that is occurring in light of global climate change. Ranching interests should have zero say in any of this; they are causing major damage to the land, while enjoying ridiculous subsidies from the federal and state government. Not only should they have no voice, but the renewal of their grazing leases should be directly tied to not killing predators on their lands. In the weeks ahead we are going to have a new Director of Game and Fish in our state. We all know it has to be an improvement over the last vicious, lover of trapping Jim Lane, who saw no animal that he did not want dead. The question is can this agency under new leadership enter the 21st century? That can only realistically happen when the Commission is thrown out and the director has the ability to truly manage this agency for wildlife, not special interests.
I would not bet on real change right now, but working together and keeping the pressure on and educating the public, we will see change, because we will force change, they will never yield it. That change cannot come soon enough for the wolves, bears and other wildlife that continue to be sacrificed for the benefit of fools.