What We Are Doing to Protect Wildlife

From the smallest beetle to the largest elk, wildlife belongs to everyone. Some species are protected completely, which means they may not be killed for sport or food. These include raptors like eagles and owls and migratory birds like robins, warblers and hummingbirds. Endangered species such as Mexican wolves and black­footed ferrets are managed by the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The state agency, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is entrusted to make sure that hunters do not kill too many game animals.

The Sierra Club finds much that needs to change regarding carnivores. Endangered wolves are struggling in our state. Some segments of the livestock industry that placed them in peril to begin with still reject recovery. And now some in the hunting community object to the competition with native carnivores for their common prey of elk or deer. New Mexico is allowing large carnivores like bears and cougars to be hunted to the extreme. Mid­size carnivores like bobcats, foxes, badgers and ringtails can be killed without limit in brutal leg­hold traps and snares for no other reason than to profit from their pelts. Coyotes have no protections at all and are used as living targets in thrill­ killing contests.

Field population studies for these species are scant, but when they do exist, often they are ignored to ensure the maximum number of these animals are killed. These practices not only make no biological sense, they ignore that carnivores are important to the integrity of wild places. Persecuting them is contrary to the land ethic about which Aldo Leopold spoke. Many of these practices also are repugnant and unethical.

In securing better protections for carnivores large and small, we bring New Mexico into the 21st century and ensure that public trust obligations by federal and state agencies are met for all and not just narrow special interests. Wild places need carnivores to continue to be vibrant and resilient in the face of habitat loss, drought and human encroachment.

How You Can Take Action to Protect Wildlife

There are many ways that you can get involved to help protect wildlife:

Join our Wildlife Team

We rally, write letters to the editor, advocate at Game Commission meetings and the Legislature and much more to protect New Mexico and West Texas wildlife. Contact Mary Katherine Ray at

Visit our Act on the Issues Page here to find out about how you can act on urgent and other environmental issues.

Header photo by Larry Lamsa