One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Prairie Dog

On July 9th, the Dona Ana County Commission approved a new contract with the federal agency Wildlife Services that requires the agency to make at least two attempts to resolve wildlife conflicts non-lethally before resorting to killing the animal. This is the first time the contract has been amended like this in decades. The amendment was introduced by Commissioner Manuel Sanchez and supported by Commissioners Ramon Gonzalez and Shannon Reynolds.

However, this is an agency that doesn't like being told what to do.

We've learned that under pressure from Wildlife Services, the contract will be back on the Doña Ana County Commission's agenda at its Tuesday, August 13th meeting, with the goal of gutting this new requirement by adding so many exceptions as to make it meaningless.

Our goal is to pack that meeting, and make sure the Commission hears our voices and doesn't sell out our wildlife.

Wildlife Services has been fighting other New Mexico counties recently, and unfortunately they've been winning. The Grant County Commission voted recently to prohibit the agency from using traps and poisons, but came under intense pressure from Wildlife Services and its allies and reversed that decision a week later. We cannot let this powerful agency continue to bully our communities.

Click here for a recap of the raucous July 9th meeting, and see the recording here. The Wildlife Services section starts approximately forty minutes in.

Wildlife Services is an opaque federal agency that has faced backlash across the United States for its unnecessary killing of native wildlife, largely to protect the interests of ranchers. According to its own reports, nationally Wildlife Services killed over 1.5 million native animals last year alone. This included 17,000 Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, a keystone species listed as threatened or endangered in parts of its range. The agency has also been criticized for their use of M-44 cyanide bombs and cruel leghold traps on public lands.



1. Contact your commissioner.

  • Urge them to stay strong and stick with the contract they passed on July 9th. No more changes!
  • Tell them you support the amendment introduced by Commissioner Sanchez requiring the agency to attempt non-lethal methods twice before resorting to killing an animal.
  • Urge them to ban traps and poisons in future contracts with Wildlife Services.

2. Attend the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, August 13th, 9 am and make public comment. The new contract with Wildlife Services is the first item on the agenda.

3. Submit a Letter to the Editor of the Las Cruces Sun News explaining your thoughts on this issue.

Commissioner Contact Info:

District 1, Lynn Ellins:

District 2, Ramon Gonzalez:

District 3, Shannon Reynolds:

District 4, Isabella Solis:

District 5, Manuel Sanchez: