New Mexico and the greater Southwest are home to wildlife populations that thrive in our varied ecosystems, from mountains to high desert to unique grassland habitats. According to the Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico has the 4th highest native species richness in the nation, and counts 90 species that are known to live only in our state.
However, our wildlife species are at risk, as the planet is experiencing a global extinction crisis. A 2018 report from the World Wildlife Fund found that 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been wiped out since 1970, putting the future of our global ecosystem in jeopardy. This crisis is being driven by a combination of unchecked human development, poor habitat and forest management practices, extractive industry, habitat destruction, and the impacts of climate change. In New Mexico alone, the Department of Game & Fish reports that there are 116 animals on the threatened and endangered species list, and numerous plant species are in jeopardy.
At the same time, increased pressure for expansion of residential development along with industrial and extractive industry have continued to push vital ecosystems and wildlife habitat to the brink. This has created conditions that have exacerbated the impacts of climate change, like devastating forest fires in the Southwest, and recklessly bolstered permanent development of public lands that are home to critical wildlife and fragile ecosystems. It is clear that aggressive and immediate action on climate change and protection of remaining land and water resources are critical to the survival of our state’s wildlife.
Slowly, New Mexico is recognizing the tremendous benefits of protecting our natural assets, like our wildlife. Outdoor recreation is a multi-billion dollar industry in New Mexico. Economic studies show that more than $1 billion annually is spent directly on wildlife-associated recreation, and an additional $1 billion is spent on non-wildlife related outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and skiing. The recent creation of the Division of Outdoor Recreation by the Lujan Grisham administration is an impressive step toward leveraging this industry and generating jobs in a way that protects what makes our state unique. The division includes the first-ever Outdoor Equity Fund that ensures New Mexico’s youth experience the land their culture is tied to while also providing opportunities to boost rural economies.
Add to that the booming film industry that thrives on our scenic beauty, and we have every reason in the world to take action to ensure that we don’t jeopardize either our economic opportunity or our legacy for our children and grandchildren.
Mexican Gray Wolf
The Mexican Gray Wolf was eliminated in the wild, due to U.S. government action on behalf of private ranchers. An emergency breeding and reintroduction program using a handful of wolves captured in Mexico re-established the wolf, but the population in the Southwest stood at just 186 wolves as of 2020. Photo: FWS – Evelyn Lichwa/Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team
Related Votes for Wildlife & Habitat Conservation
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
Water Trust Board Projects & NM Unit Fund more
Summary: HB 200 prevents NM Unit Fund monies from being used on any diversion of the Gila River and redirects funding to meet water supply demands in the southwest water planning region of New Mexico.
Outcome: HB 200 passed the House 43-24 and the Senate 26-15. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Nathan P. Small
Siah Correa Hemphill
Natural Resources & Lands Protection more
Summary: HB 265 offered technical fixes to the Natural Lands Protection Act and Natural Heritage Conservation Act to allow state agencies to directly acquire and manage lands, and conservation and restoration-focused nonprofits to apply directly for restoration and conservation funding.
Outcome: HB 265 passed the House 40-29, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act more
Summary: SB 32 bans the use of non-essential traps, snares and wildlife poisons on public lands in New Mexico.
Outcome: SB 32 passed the Senate 23-16 and the House 35-34. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2021.
Roberto J. Gonzales
Brenda G. McKenna
Restricting Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticide more
Summary: SB 103 would have reduced the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are toxic to pollinating insects like bees, by banning the use of it in certain crop production.
Outcome: SB 103 passed out of committee but failed in the Senate 18-20.
Prohibit New Fracking Licenses more
Summary: SB 149 would have halted the issuing of new state fracking permits.
Outcome: SB 149 passed the Senate Conservation Committee but died on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Patricia Roybal Caballero
Narrow Landowner Animal Takings more
Summary: SB 419 would have narrowed the conditions for landowners taking or killing animals on private lands causing livestock or crop depredation, and requires state agencies to offer additional interventions.
Outcome: SB 419 passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Environmental Rights, CA more
Summary: SJR 3 would have created a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment for the people of New Mexico
Outcome: SJR 3 passed the Senate Rules Committee, but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
William P. Soules
Joanne J. Ferrary
Know the Score > Take Action
Strategies for Wildlife & Habitat Conservation
Actions that protect wildlife and habitats:
The Wildlife Conservation & Public Safety Act (SB 32), also known as Roxy’s Law, passed the Legislature and was signed into law in 2021. It bans the use of traps, snares, and poisons on public lands in New Mexico. Traps, snares, and poisons don’t discriminate and result in maiming and killing endangered or threatened species, people’s companion animals, and a wide variety of so-called “pest animals.” Those animals not killed immediately can suffer broken bones and slow deaths from dehydration, starvation, and predation by other animals. Roxy’s Law will make our public lands safer for the animals and people who visit them and encourage the outdoor recreation economy.
Actions that threaten wildlife and habitats:
No thank you!
In 1997, Sen. Tim Jennings passed an amendment to wildlife legislation that authorized the indiscriminate killing of wildlife whenever a landowner determines that animals pose an “immediate” threat to property. The result has been numerous cases of landowners slaughtering (or wounding and leaving to die) dozens of elk, antelope and other wildlife because they claimed the animals were eating their crops. Landowners have many remedies available to them besides slaughter, and legislation has been introduced that would increase landowner assistance while restricting the authority to kill wildlife to only those instances in which predators are threatening humans, livestock or family pets.
- National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation, US Fish & Wildlife Service, 2001, plus 2003 addendum
- Funding Conservation for New Mexico: Providing for Future Generations, NM Dept. of Game & Fish, and Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Dept., 2004
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.