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Conservation Groups Join Lawsuit over Mexican Wolf Release

Conservation groups are opposing New Mexico officials, who are seeking a court order to remove two Mexico gray wolf pups recently introduced into the wild. (Endangered Wolf Center)
Conservation groups are opposing New Mexico officials, who are seeking a court order to remove two Mexico gray wolf pups recently introduced into the wild. (Endangered Wolf Center)
June 8, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Conservation groups are seeking to join the legal fight between New Mexico and the federal government over the release of endangered Mexican gray wolf pups into the wild. The organizations have filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, saying the state has no authority to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from carrying out a plan to restore the endangered species in New Mexico and Arizona.

Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, said Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is siding with livestock growers, who say the wolves are predators that decimate their herds.

"Now, the Martinez administration in New Mexico has jumped into the fray in seeking to get two wolf pups who were released this year removed on behalf of the livestock industry and a halt in any additional wolf releases," Robinson said.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists released a pair of 2-week-old pups into a den of wild wolves in April in hopes they would be adopted by the pack mother. The New Mexico Game and Fish Department maintains that federal officials released the pups without a proper state permit and are asking the court to have the pups recaptured and removed. The conservation groups have said the state has no authority to block the release of the pups, which is a key part of a plan to restore the Mexican gray wolf population.

With fewer than 100 wolves left in the wild, Robinson said, the species is in danger of becoming extinct.

"We're filing on the same side as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," he said, "supporting their authority and their responsibility to release wolves into the wild in order to diversify the gene pool in the Mexican wolf population."

Conservation groups seeking to join the suit include the Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

The legal filing is online at biologicaldiversity.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - NM