Mexican gray wolf

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Several conservation groups expanded claims a federal agency issued an order to trap or kill the Mexican gray wolf.

A coalition of conservation groups, including the Western Watersheds Project, Wolf Conservation Center and Lobos of the Southwest, issued a letter last week to U.S. Fish and Wildlife leadership asking if it was the organization’s intention to retain the services of Bill Nelson.

“Last week, it came to our attention that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was seeking input on the decision to issue a sole-source award to Bill Nelson Wildlife Control (DUNS# 117125795) out of Datil, N.M., to assist the agency with trapping, capturing and radio collaring of endangered Mexican wolves,” the groups wrote.

“Does the agency actually plan to hire an alleged wolf killer for these sensitive services to the program? At best, he is simply unqualified because he cannot distinguish between a coyote and a Mexican wolf. But based on the following incidents, we don’t believe that this contractor should have anything to do with helping the USFWS fulfill their obligation of Mexican wolf recovery.”

In a previous statement, the conservation groups announced, somewhat ambiguously, that USFWS has issued a “kill order” on wolves that allows for the trapping, relocation and potentially the killing of wolves.

The Copper Era reached out for comment from Amy Lueders, the Southwest regional director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but has yet to receive a reply.

The conservation groups’ ire stems from a pair of events reportedly involving Nelson — first in 2007 and then again in 2013 — where wolves were killed.

In 2007, Nelson was accused of pointing a rifle at New Mexico Game and Fish biologist Angela Dassow after allegedly killing a problem wolf, according to an article from the Silver City Sun News. Dassow resigned after the incident, and Nelson was not charged.

In the 2013 incident, Nelson was purported to be the cause of an investigation for an illegal wolf killing that the conservation groups cited from the Albuquerque Journal. Nelson is not named in that article and was not prosecuted for the incident.

“This past year has seen an increase in illegal killings of Mexican wolves. These killings disrupt the packs, creating a disturbance to wolf behavior that correlates to increasing depredation of cattle,” a press release issued by the conservation groups stated, “and this depredation then increases the social intolerance and likelihood of more illegal killings.

“This cycle must be stopped. Bringing on a person who has already (allegedly) illegally killed a Mexican wolf for the sensitive work of trapping and collaring wolves is showing people that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife will overlook such grave errors. It is unacceptable.”

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