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Lawsuit Targets Cougar Trapping, Prosecutors And Lawmakers Spar Over Subpoena Powers

Jun 28, 2016

Federal Lawsuit Targets Cougar Trapping In New Mexico – Associated Press

Environmentalists are suing the New Mexico Game Commission in federal court, arguing that expanded cougar trapping threatens endangered Mexican gray wolves and jaguars.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by The Humane Society of the United States, Animal Protection New Mexico and residents Peter and Jean Ossorio.

The commission voted last year to allow trapping on 9 million acres of state lands, but opponents voiced concerns that the decision was based on politics rather than science.

The revision removed the requirement to obtain permits to trap cougars on private land. It also cleared the way for using leg-hold trapping and snaring on state lands.

Game officials did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

An attorney for the Humane Society says trapping threatens to undermine efforts to recover wolves and jaguars in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Prosecutors, Lawmakers Spar Over New Mexico Subpoena Powers - Associated Press

A state district court judge has temporarily denied a request to limit testimony from New Mexico lawmakers and their aides in the prosecution of a former state senator on fraud charges.

Judge Brett Loveless ruled Monday that he’ll consider on a case-by-case basis whether lawmakers can decline to testify by invoking a privilege designed to protect the legislative process.

The attorney general's office is pursuing fraud and bribery charges against former Sen. Phil Griego, who has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors are gathering testimony from at least five lawmakers, the chief clerk of the New Mexico Senate and staff at the administrative arm of the Legislature.

The Legislative Council Service wants testimony limited to conduct that clearly constitutes possible criminal conduct and areas that don't compromise legislative immunity.

New Mexico Cites Progress In Capturing DWI FugitivesThe Associated Press 

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says the state has tracked down 100 fugitives linked to drunken driving infractions since a roundup effort began late last year.

The Republican governor announced the milestone on Monday. Launched in December, the initiative directs State Police and a special absconder unit of the Department of Corrections to track down fugitives linked to DWI violations who have skipped out on parole or probation requirements.

Of the 100 fugitives detained, 55 had multiple DWI arrests or were linked to a killing while driving drunk.

The number of people killed in drunken driving crashes last year decreased by 28 percent to 122 in New Mexico. That marks a 36-year low for such deaths in a state that has long struggled with high DWI rates.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Unveils New Anti-DWI Ads Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has unveiled a new set of commercials targeting drunken driving and texting while driving.

The ads released Monday feature New Mexico State Police and dramatized scenes from fatal traffic crashes.

The ads are part of a push by the governor's office to combat drunken driving and come before the start of the July 4th holiday weekend.

The ads will run in radio and television spots.

In November, the governor's office announced a similar $300,000 ad campaign that featured police officers telling their stories about crashes caused by drunken drivers. Federal taxpayers funded those commercials.

Bear Attack Victim Wants Change In New Mexico Wildlife LawThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

A New Mexico marathon runner who was attacked by a black bear is advocating to change the state law that forced wild officials to kill the animal.

Karen Williams tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that the female bear was acting on its protective instincts to defend its cubs when it charged and mauled her June 18 in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Williams, who was competing in a race when she was mauled, was treated at an Albuquerque hospital for bites, scratches and a fractured eye socket.

The black bear was tracked and killed by authorities. Its cubs have been taken to a wildlife center.

Willams says she sent a letter to the governor protesting the law that mandates euthanizing animals that attack humans. She also plans to petition the state Water and Natural Resources Committee.

Ruidoso Gets $2.4M For Repairs Prompted By 2008 StormsThe Associated Press 

The village of Ruidoso will receive more than $2.4 million from the federal government to help with the cost of repairing sewer pipes damaged by storms and flooding nearly eight years ago.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday, saying the damage was caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly after it made landfall in Texas in July 2008.

The federal funds will cover 75 percent of the repairs.

Ruidoso also received an additional $1.5 million in disaster funds earlier this year to replace a bridge along the Rio Ruidoso that was damaged by the resulting storms and flooding.

At the time, flooding forced the evacuation of hundreds of people in the mountain village in southern New Mexico.

Feds Fund Native American Health Care Boost In CitiesThe Associated Press

Health programs serving Native Americans in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Reno, Nevada, are among dozens of non-profits that have been awarded federal Indian Health Service grants.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency says the grants are meant to make healthcare more accessible to Native Americans living in urban areas — and especially boost services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse treatment, immunizations, and disease prevention.

The Indian Health Service announced Monday that more than $7.6 million in grants over the next three years is being awarded.

There are 29 agencies nationwide receiving grants including more than a half-dozen in the Southwest including: NativeHealth Center in Phoenix, Urban Indian Center of Salt lake, Nevada Urban Indians Inc., and First Nations Community HealthSource in Albuquerque.

NMSU Employees To Have Fewer BenefitsThe Associated Press

New Mexico State University employees both current and future will see fewer benefits in an effort to lower costs.

The Board of Regents approved several changes to employee benefits during a meeting on Monday.

For example, current employees who leave or retire will no longer get their unused sick days paid out.

For employees hired on or after July 1, there will be no retiree health coverage available and they'll have fewer annual leave days at the beginning of their tenure.

NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said the changes put the university on a "more secure financial footing."

Crews Begin Rehab In Wake Of New Mexico Blaze Associated Press

Rehabilitation work is underway on a 28-square-mile wildfire that destroyed 12 homes and dozens of other structures in central New Mexico.

Fire officials say the blaze that burned through part of the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque is 90 percent contained and crews were focusing Monday on mopping up and rehabilitating dozer and hand lines that were built to corral the flames.

Fire information officer Sharma Chavez says while there are no active flames left, firefighters are making sure any hot spots not already doused by recent rains are under control.

Chavez says there have been no reports of major flooding within the burn scar.

About 260 personnel are assigned to the fire, which has cost more than $10.3 million after being sparked on June 14.

Feds Fund Native American Health Care Boost In Cities Associated Press

Health programs serving Native Americans in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Reno, Nevada, are among dozens of non-profits that have been awarded federal Indian Health Service grants.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency says the grants are meant to make healthcare more accessible to Native Americans living in urban areas — and especially boost services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse treatment, immunizations, and disease prevention.

The Indian Health Service announced Monday that more than $7.6 million in grants over the next three years is being awarded.

There are 29 agencies nationwide receiving grants including more than a half-dozen in the Southwest including First Nations Community HealthSource in Albuquerque.

NMSU Employees To Have Fewer Benefits Associated Press

New Mexico State University employees both current and future will see fewer benefits in an effort to lower costs.

The Board of Regents approved several changes to employee benefits during a meeting on Monday.

For example, current employees who leave or retire will no longer get their unused sick days paid out.

For employees hired on or after July 1, there will be no retiree health coverage available and they'll have fewer annual leave days at the beginning of their tenure.

NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said the changes put the university on a more secure financial footing.

Ruidoso Gets $2.4M For Repairs Prompted By 2008 Storms Associated Press

The village of Ruidoso will receive more than $2.4 million from the federal government to help with the cost of repairing sewer pipes damaged by storms and flooding nearly eight years ago.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday, saying the damage was caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly after it made landfall in Texas in July 2008.

The federal funds will cover 75 percent of the repairs.

Ruidoso also received an additional $1.5 million in disaster funds earlier this year to replace a bridge along the Rio Ruidoso that was damaged by the resulting storms and flooding.

At the time, flooding forced the evacuation of hundreds of people in the mountain village in southern New Mexico.

Expert: Recent Rains Have Little Effect On Ogallala Aquifer Hobbs News-Sun, Association Press

Southeastern New Mexico has had some rain, but it's not likely to do much to recharge the Ogallala Aquifer.

Mike Johnson with the Office of the State Engineer says whether rain recharges the aquifer is a complicated question since the agency doesn't measure recharge directly.

State water managers cooperate with the U.S. Geological Survey to measure well levels to get an idea of how much water is in the aquifer and if levels are changing.

Johnson tells the Hobbs News-Sun it's uncommon for wells in the Ogallala Aquifer to be recharged by rain, although it isn't unheard of.

The Ogallala stretches across New Mexico and several other states, providing water to nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton and cattle produced in the U.S. Officials say it's being depleted at an unsustainable rate.

State Police Investigating Laguna Shooting Associated Press

New Mexico State Police officers are investigating a fatal police shooting that took place on the Laguna Reservation west of Albuquerque.

Officers responded to a call on Monday after an armed person fled from tribal police.

There are no details of how the shooting unfolded but a spokesman said the suspect was fatally shot by a State Police officer and pronounced dead on scene.

The agency is not releasing the name of the suspect or officer involved in the shooting.

NMSU To Offer Discounted Tuition For Mexican Students Associated Press

Mexican students will now be able to attend New Mexico State University at a discounted rate.

The NMSU Board of Regents passed a resolution that allows students from Mexico to pay a lower tuition rate than out-of-state students.

Las Cruces is near the border with Mexico and already attracts many students from the country. The university is also recruiting students from the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora.

The tuition rate for qualifying Mexican students will be about half of that for out-of-state students at about $4,600 a semester for full-time students.

The new rate takes effect in the fall.

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