Indentifying and Protecting Wildlife Corridors

This letter to the NM Dept. of Game and Fish from Jan Hayes of Sandia Mt. BearWatch is a wake up call to us all ~ Black Bears need help now!


Every day I’m asked the question, where are the bears this year?  And my answer to that question is “they’re gone….sadly… gone for good.”


In the last two years the New Mexico Game and Fish (NMG&F) along with a few others have killed or removed approximately 45+ bears out of an estimated Sandia bear population of 50+.


Sandia’s bears have faced many destructive forces: Mother Nature produced a series of drought years with the final blow of a harsh late frost in the spring of 2011 that killed most natural food sources; a growing, irresponsible human population that moved into these bears’ territory and wanted them removed for getting into their available garbage and bird feeders; an organization that campaigned for killing all bears and cougars from our wildlife areas (especially the Sandias) on behalf of their children and the final fatal assault, a Game and Fish department that considered black bear to be nothing but a nuisance species.


In 2010 and 2011, there were huge public outcries along with multiple newspaper articles and editorials statewide against the New Mexico Game and Fish’s proposed 108% increased bear hunts.  Those requests for common-sense management of this species were ignored.


Most people believe that a state game department is there to protect our wildlife.  In New Mexico, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  A real eye-opener would be for you to attend a Game and Fish Commission meeting’s greed fest. Money and politics are the driving forces with conservation coming in last, if at all. Meeting after meeting, professional outfitters and hunters are fighting/suing each other for more licenses to kill more wildlife. In 20 years of attending these meetings, I’ve rarely heard any hunters, ranchers, etc. ask for conservation for a species. Ranchers are there to demand more licenses for resell for wildlife that sometime forage on their ranches, farmers are there to ask for compensation for crop damage, trappers are there to ask for unlimited access to our state and federal lands, anti-wildlife city kooks are there to demand the decimation of bears and cougars.  And the New Mexico Game and Fish Department are more than happy to comply…after all, this is their constituency.


The destruction of Sandia’s bears is just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2011, 744 bears were killed statewide. This is more than double the average of the preceding five years. If the NMG&F’s statewide bear elimination pogrom goes forward as planned with a limit of 664 bears this year and 628 per year to be killed for the next four years, a five year total of 3,176 bears will be killed or over half of the NMG&F’s inflated estimate of the entire bear population. This doesn’t include rampant poaching, natural die-off and the NMG&F’s new policy to vastly expand depredation.


A serious concern is that the NMG&F continues to raise the female-sow hunt limit.  To ensure a stable bear population, sound bear biology tells us that no more than 30% of a reasonable yearly kill should include sows.  The NMG&F claims that although 44% of kills can be sows, hunters are being selective and only 31% of kills were sows in the bear hunt last year which is still too many considering that was the percentage of a huge harvest.


If the largest bear hunts in New Mexico’s history go forward as planned, in a few short years the bear population will necessarily plummet. Hunters will have difficulty finding bears to kill and that means that hunters will no longer be selective which will result in a devastating sow kill-off.


Sows are the future, and the NMG&F’s ongoing unsound management will be responsible for destroying that future. If you don’t believe that can happen here, look to Utah and Arizona that now have some bear-free mountain ranges.


(note, the Journal Editor deleted this paragraph)The NMG&F’s reckless management of New Mexico’s black bears is biologically unsustainable and incredibly shortsighted. Instead of the NMG&F instituting a program to educate mountain residents how to co-exist with bears, pushing for mandatory bear-proof garbage receptacles for all bear-country communities, issuing tickets to irresponsible residents…the NMG&F uses ‘killing’ as their modus operandi.


Governor Martinez has full control over the New Mexico Game and Fish and what happens to our state’s wildlife including this state’s mammal, the black bear.


A Journal editorial on August 7, 2010 asked the question of who will hold the Game and Fish accountable for the decimation of New Mexico’s bears, warning that it could result in an ecological and social disaster. My question to Governor Martinez is… who will answer for this biological disaster…should she allow it to continue?


Jan Hayes

Sandia Mountain BearWatch


Comments on: "The last of Sandia Mountain’s Black Bears?" (1)

  1. daniel Millis said:

    what happens in the circle of life(particularly for humans) when the bear population is extinct? is there a potential for more insects/ and more ecological threats that bears unknowingly prevent? given the knowledge that bears and humans are equally frightened by each other? are the next lower than us on the food chain?

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