ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A decision to cancel the grazing permit for a New Mexico rancher was upheld by the Forest Service last week.
In 2015, rancher Craig Thiessen pleaded guilty to intentionally trapping and beating to death a Mexican wolf with a shovel.
The killing sparked outrage from a number of environmental organizations and members of the public, and resulted in the Forest Service revoking Thiessen’s public land grazing permit in the Canyon del Buey allotment in New Mexico.
“This decision has drawn attention from many stakeholders with differing viewpoints. As part of USDA, we strive to do right and feed everyone. Livestock producers in the Southwest play a key role in achieving that mission, and we value the close working relationship that we have built with the local ranching community. We are also charged with ensuring the sustainability of our nation’s forests and grasslands and have tools — such as grazing permits — that specify the terms for ensuring production and sustainability. We fully support the local line officer in taking management action when those terms are violated. This allows us to ensure that someone breaking the law, by taking the life of an endangered species, for instance, does not continue to enjoy the benefits of a permit,” Marie Therese Sebrechts, Southwestern region director, said in a public release.
Thiessen appealed the action in January, writing in a declaration, “When I discovered the wolf in the trap, I was afraid for my life. In the heat of the moment, I struck the wolf with a shovel in an attempt to stun the animal in what I believed was self-defense.”
Thiessen went on to claim he then released the wolf from the trap and that it was slain by another wolf. A necropsy report, however, indicated differently, noting extensive damage that resulted in the wolf’s lower jaw being fractured and detached, as well as there being an attempt to tamper with the wolf’s radio collar.
Thiessen’s livestock remaining on the Canyon del Buey allotment have until the end of August to be removed.