The Campaign for New Mexico's Living Future
Worldwide, humans are causing a sixth mass extinction that threatens all life on earth including our own species. New Mexico is not equipped to deal with this crisis, but we can change that with your help.
Today’s Extinction Crisis
The ongoing extinction crisis—the rapid disappearance of species and natural habitats due to human activities—is arguably the greatest threat to life on Earth today.
Since 1970, vertebrate populations--mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians--around the globe have declined by 60 percent on average. According to a recent report, of the estimated 8 million species of plants and animals on the planet, as many as 1 million are currently threatened with extinction, and extinction rates are accelerating.
Why should we care?
Non-humans have an intrinsic right to exist for their own sake. We should respect that. At the same time, human survival depends on the survival of other species because they provide us free and essential life-support services including clean air and water, healthy soils, pest control, food, and pollination. Nothing could live without these goods and services, including people.
The Consequence of Inaction
The fabric of life on Earth is unraveling. If we fail to reverse current trends of habitat and species loss, natural systems will continue to be undermined and collapse. We have to ask ourselves: what is the future we want for our children? Do we want a living future? Or a future filled with food and water shortages, mass dislocations, mass extinctions, and social upheaval, devoid of the animals that we take for granted today?
New Mexico Can Lead us into a Living Future
Like many states, New Mexico is not prepared to deal with this crisis. Our outdated state wildlife policies and institutions do not reflect modern ecological understanding or changing public attitudes, nor are they democratic.
A paradigm shift is needed to transform our state wildlife agency—the Department of Game and Fish—into a forward looking, proactive champion that will stand up for all wildlife on behalf of all New Mexicans, including future generations.
Two major obstacles stand in the way of that happening.
First, the department is legally handcuffed. It only has authority under state law to manage about 60 percent of the state’s vertebrates, and virtually none of its invertebrates. Left out are most rodents, bats, native fish and wild pollinators such as native bees and butterflies. The agency cannot be an effective advocate for New Mexico’s wildlife without having the necessary legal tools.
Secondly, 99 percent of the Department’s funding comes directly or indirectly from hunters, anglers and trappers, who together comprise less than 20 percent of New Mexicans. This has created a system that encourages the Department to prioritize serving these groups rather than the broader public. This bias is reflected in the composition of the Game Commission, an appointed body which oversees the department and has historically been dominated by hunters, anglers and agricultural representatives.
Fundamental Reform is Urgent
To unleash the department and redirect its priorities, two fundamental reforms are urgently needed:
The Legislature should amend existing statute to extend management authority of the Department to cover all of the state’s wildlife, including invertebrates;
The Legislature should establish a dedicated source of annual funding not tied to hunting, fishing and trapping, for the conservation of non-game species.
These reforms need to happen together. Enacting one without the other will not create the systemic change that is needed.
Making these changes will not be easy. The status quo was shaped over nearly a century. Our proposed reforms will be resisted by powerful interests that benefit from the way things are today. These same interests benefit from keeping us divided, by making sure the protection of our common home is considered a “fringe” issue only of interest to some of us rather than of vital importance to all of us. The only way we will be able to reclaim New Mexico’s living future is if we all stand together to demand change.
Please join us! Send an email to Amanda to join the grassroots campaign.