Mexican Wolf protection plan to increase habitat and reduce killing raises hackles in Southwest

October 28, 2013

A new federal plan managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to extend the Endangered Species Act protections to an estimated 75 Mexican wolves in the states of New Mexico and Arizona.  Protections would make it illegal to kill the wolves in most instances and increase their habitat range.  This new plan would expand upon protections from the first Mexican Wolf Recovery Program first instated in 1982.  The plan is expected to be finalized at the end of this year.

Small communities in New Mexico and Arizona are fighting back against a US government plan to increase habitat and reduce the killing of Mexican wolves in the southwest.  There is great fear in local communities about wolf attacks and feel the federal government is walking on their rights.  Anti-wolf campaigns paid by conservative political groups have caused a lot of the hype claiming protections are examples of the government stretching too far into peoples lives.

Defenders of the wolves state there is no record of wolf attacks in New Mexico or Arizona.  They feel that the fear is overblown, and scoff at communities building “kid cages” to protect schoolchildren from wolves while waiting for the bus in the morning.

Mexican wolves themselves are more at risk than children or the members of these communities where they might roam.  Mexican wolves, a subspecies of the grey wolf, were first put on the Endangered Species Act in 1976, three years after the bill’s passage.  They are threated by habitat destruction from ranches and urban sprawl.  Illegal killings of the wolves also reduced their numbers to seven individuals.  It was not until 1998, that the first of the species was reintroduced into the wild.  These captive raised wolves were reintroduced in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.  Yet, recent killings have been a cause of concern for those that protect them.  A young male was fatally shot with an arrow a few weeks ago in Catron County, New Mexico, where “kid cages” are used.

Political campaigns have been held around the debate over Mexican wolf protection. On Oct. 4, 2013, a public hearing was postponed due to the government shutdown, but advocates came out anyway.  Save the Lobo rally, paid for by Defenders of Wildlife occupied a meeting room while an anti-wolf event sponsored by Americans for Prosperity who are funded by the Koch brothers happened down the hall.  They each offered their own views on the issue.

The Americans for Prosperity event focused on the safety and political issues centering around the wolves.  They had armed guard at their discussion made necessary by death threats from environmental groups. They talked about the “kid cages”, whose origins and funding are unclear. It is also unknown how many of them there are.  Some residences feel they are not enough and have claimed that wolves have gone after their children in the past.  Other community members are worried about their cabins in the area.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexican wolves rarely target humans.  Past records state that there have only been two to three attacks in the last decade in Canada and Alaska where there are thousands of grey wolves.  Grey wolves are much larger than the Mexican wolf.  Advocates claim based on this information that the fear of the communities have been exaggerated for cynical reasons.

Also, attacks on livestock are also much less common that we believe.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service state that on third of sheep deaths nationwide are linked to predation.  Only 0.4% of that is linked to wolf attacks.  Domestic dogs are responsible for 20 times that.  Statistics for cattle are also similar.  Wolf kills rank behind coyotes, domestic dog, puma and vultures which have history of attacking calves.  Any rancher that is affected in this way is compensated with proof of death.  Although, ranchers claim that the government program that provides the reimbursement pays under market value.  Many ranchers blame the government and the wolves for their economic troubles as a result.

In the end of all of this, the wolf debate is more than a just an issue between scared people and environmentalists.  It is a political battle.  Environmental groups feel that it shows the economic decline in rural lifestyle.  Therefore, people show their fear and want to retaliate against the government.  Opposing views state that the government is again overreaching their boundaries.  They view the wolf as a beginning symbol of grievances to do with the current government dealing with everything from tax problems to state rights.  Overall, the debate itself does seem more than just about the animal especially at the local level.

Efficacy of the Public Trust Doctrine

October 23, 2013

August Nesbitt

The public trust doctrine is the principle that certain lands and resources belong to the public, and thus the government is required to maintain these public lands for the public’s reasonable use. The idea came from the Roman Emperor Justinian, who rewrote the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is the foundation of civil law in many nations today, and in doing so included a law which held that the seashore not cordoned for private use was available to anyone. This principle eventually became law in England, which consolidated the law’s power until the United States inherited it as well. Currently, the public trust applies to navigable waters as well as to the natural resources found on that land. Most often invoked in land access disputes, and occasionally in natural resource disputes, the public trust doctrine is different in every state. In California, Mono Lake was threatened in the 80’s by diversion of its tributary streams for use by the city of Los Angeles; Advocates for the lake sued the city, and the case eventually found itself in the California Supreme Court, which ruled that the water rights of Los Angeles had to be more fairly balanced with the public trust values of the lake, decreeing that Mono Lake had public trust values and the state was obligated to maintain these values. The consequences of the decision are far-reaching, and it is now a cornerstone of the water rights’ law field. This project will hopefully attempt to examine the public trust doctrine’s economic effect across US states, using California’s doctrine as a base.


The final paper will probably take the general form of a scientific research paper. Thus, it will include:

  • Abstract – This short paragraph will summarize the paper.
  • Introduction – This section will expand on the information in the above section to provide the reader background information.
  • Previous Research – This section informs the reader about where my paper fits into existing literature on the topic.
  • Data – This section provides and analyzes data used in the research.
  • Results – Assuming I create a mathematical model, this section will provide and analyze that model and the results of transforming the data with the model.
  • Conclusion – This section will frame future research in this area.
  • Bibliography

Speaking of the latter:

One of the primary sources will be Brian Gray’s UC Davis Law Review article, “Ensuring the Public Trust’. The article focuses on the public trust doctrine in California and how it was applied in a major court case, National Audubon Society V. Superior Court, and the effects of that ruling. Retrieved from:

I will also consider the case notes from the case itself, as found on the LexisNexis Academic Network.

33 Cal. 3d 419; 658 P.2d 709; 189 Cal. Rptr. 346; 1983 Cal. LEXIS 152; 21 ERC (BNA) 1490; 13 ELR 20272. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/10/23.

Hopefully I will be able to extract some information from Judge Hodge.

Sax, Joseph L. (1970). “The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law: Effective Judicial Intervention”.Michigan Law Review (The Michigan Law Review Association) 68 (3): 471–566. doi:10.2307/1287556.JSTOR 1287556.

Slade, David C. (2008). The Public Trust Doctrine in Motion. PTDIM, LLCISBN 978-0-615-24111-1.

Velozo de Melo Bento, Lucas (November 14, 2009). “Searching for Intergenerational Green Solutions: The Relevance of the Public Trust Doctrine to Environmental Preservation”. Common Law Review (11): 7–13.

Michael Seth Benn, Towards Environmental Entrepreneurship: Restoring the Public Trust Doctrine in New York, 155 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 203 (2006).

Patrick S. Ryan, Application of the Public-Trust Doctrine and Principles of Natural Resource Management to Electromagnetic Spectrum. Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2004.

James L. Huffman, Ph.D., “Fish Out of Water: The Public Trust Doctrine in a Constitutional Democracy ” Issues in Legal Scholarship, Joseph Sax and the Public Trust (2003): Article 6.

“Restoring The Trust: Water Resources & The Public Trust Doctrine, A Manual For Advocates” by the Center for Progressive Reform, September 2009

Environment and Society

October 23, 2013

Part I

  • “We must change our relationship with nature from conqueror…to plain member and citizen”

    I believe this is a large step that man-kind must make before we see any real change in the Human/environment interaction. Most people still believe that we are above the environment and the planet earth.  They think that earth was just made for our disposal and we can do whatever we want.  But once people start to think of themselves as a member or citizen of the environment, perhaps they will realize all the negative things they have done, and began to figure out a way to fix them.  


  • “A prerequisite for maximizing good (as pleasure and happiness) is to eliminate, as much as possible, suffering.  As such, all beings who can suffer have interests, and warrant equal consideration in matters of ethics.” 

 I like this because it does not allow people to make the excuse of animals can’t talk or they don’t live like us so they should not be considered beings in this ethics debate, but suffering can be seen is many different ways depending on the species and this allows people also to “measure” if there is suffering happening. 

  • I agree with some of Singer’s beliefs in animal ethics, defining ethical worthy participants to be measured by the ability to suffer is a good definition.  When it comes to animal testing for cosmetics and fashions I am not a supporter of but for medical reasons and agricultural reasons, I can not say I am totally against those.  I am not 100% for them either but with medical reasons I can see the argument for both sides.   For agricultural reasons, I believe that the factory farms should not exist and the human race should slow down on their meat intake but to eliminate agricultural animals all together seems a little too extreme.  

Part II


  • I found the Minnesota example was interesting when they spoke about the conservation plan and how they included livestock owners, hunters and trappers into the decision -making process.   I believe that is was the right idea, bringing in all parties that are affected by these wolves.  I think this also spreads awareness and educates more of the public because they would be able to see how Wolves are more than carnivores that eat livestock. 

Reading and article

October 23, 2013

Chapter One; Introduces the fact that human interaction with the environment is something with innumerable perspectives. Yet, despite this, understanding and cooperation can be reached.

Chapter Two; Discusses several different ways to look at the current challenges facing the environment and their causes. The first being population growth. In this there are also several views, including how much of an impact each person has based on resource and energy use.

Chapter Three; Shows the population perspective not as one that only causes problems, but as one that can solve them as well, showing economic methods that can mitigate and even reverse environmental damage.

Questions; Can market solutions such as cap and trade and ‘banking’ environmental services really help solve the ecological problems we are facing, or will it simply create new problems in how the environment is legally defined as companies seek to change those definitions?

Chapter Four; Talks about the management of environmental resources by institutions and populations as a whole, questioning whether or not it is even possible to do so. The first issues discussed are;

The Prisoners Dilemma in terms of access to environmental resources. As he environment is something all people have access to and it is in each individuals personal interest to continue taking resources from the environment then how can people as a whole avoid environmental destruction on a massive scale in time? The chapter illustrates this problem using the tragedy of commons as presented by Garrett Hardin. Yet at the same time it presents how solutions to environmental problems the world over exist as a result of local communities regulating how they use these resources. It goes on to show how cooperation even which large populations manages and protects the environment. These efforts are often successful, though many are not, and the conditions regarding this cooperation are explored, including boundaries, proportionality of investment, collective choice, sanctions, conflict resolution, and autonomy of at least some kind from non-local authorities.

Questions; What is an example of a local common? Or resource that is used and managed collectively on a local level? Furthermore, what can we do about ‘commons’ that are not local, such as global climate?

Chapter 5; Steps back from the broad view of human systems and instead looks at just one of those systems in closer detail, farming. Not only this but rather than ask whether or this system can produce certain results, it asks whether or not the system itself is ethical. To illustrate this it gives an example of a factory farm where a hog is raised, currently the way 80% of pork is produced in the United States. A ‘breeding sow’ is artificially inseminated at 8 months old and moved to a seven by two foot box. This is large enough enough for her to stand and lie down in provided she rubs her skin against the bars (and as a result develops sores and infections) though she cannot turn around, or at all. When the piglets are almost birthed she is moved to a special box known as a ‘farrowing crate’ which will allow her to nurse the piglets without them being crushed. Once the baby pigs are just about weaned she is artificially inseminated again and moved back to her regular box. The economic benefits of this process include more land available for economic activities other than farming and a reduction in the price of meat (also affected by government subsidies and other factors). Yet the book brings up that there are criticisms of this and how ethical considerations of the environment have changed over time.

Questions; How should environmentalism balance its concern with individuals and its concern with ecosystems as a whole? How does this change how we approach issues such as water contamination as a result of pollution from factory farms, and the destruction of the rainforest in Brazil for cattle grazing?

Environment and Society

October 23, 2013

Overall I enjoyed this reading and found that the way in which people think about the environment differs greatly. I have personally studied this in other classes such as phil 250 (environmental ethics) and have found that it is a very broad spectrum with many different goals. In my view that most enlightened and positive viewpoint discussed was in chapter 5 on environmental ethics.  First as most in our group know I am an avid and active member of the organic/natural farming movement and therefore agree with the problems raised in regards to factory farming. I also do agree with animal rights activism in part, I do agree with the idea that animal life is special and valuable therefore they do deserve respect. However, I do draw a line between human and animal right and believe the harvesting of animals in a humane and responsible way is an acceptable act. I also agree with the arguments and thoughts of Leopold, that ecology is very important. I have/am reading Leopold’s work and find his thought process and ideas to be astoundingly rational, straightforward, and practical. 

“Does Pot Law Hurt the Environment”

Environment and Society

October 23, 2013

I enjoyed looking at the environment from a more current perspective while reading this book. Not to say that I did not enjoy looking at various definitions and conceptions of nature throughout human history, but it was a nice change of pace to look at modern issues. Also, compared to a certain book that was recently read by the class (which will not be named), it was much more exciting and compelling.

The chapter on bottles water talked about how it helps those in need of a water supply because of polluted water sources. I started googling to see what I could find. I searched “bottled water helping those with polluted water” and the first link I found was an article saying quite the opposite. The article, which can be found by using the link below, discussed the pollution that bottled water causes. I always find it interesting looking for the other side of the coin!



Nature Part II

October 23, 2013

The second part of the book really drove home one point in particular for me, and that’s the fact that nature and people are two completely separate entities. We’ve discussed this topic in class countless times, but this book really made the idea concrete for me. The way it presented the fact that it has been two separate things throughout history and all over the world made sense in my mind. I thought it was really interesting the way that the author took different culture and regions of the world and shared how they view nature and the wilderness. I found myself constantly comparing how other cultures interact with and view nature with how our culture interacts with and views nature.

Another point I thought was interesting is how nature is presented in literature throughout history. It kind of mirrors how nature can somewhat be a trend throughout the years. For example, the book talks about how in the 60’s the literature for nature and environmentalism pretty much turned into romanticism. Also going on in the 60s was the viewpoint of “protect the earth” and “live off the land” type of ideals. This kind of trend is not something that’s dead, however. Take the recent “Green Movement” for instance. This movement started in the mid 2000’s and has only recently gradually gone out of style. About five years ago finding new means for alternative energy was incredibly popular, and a topic that most people knew a lot about. I’m sure that in just a few short years we’ll most likely be able to see a trend in how our literature about nature changed during this Green Movement that we discovered in the United States.