To some, it’s considered the “Magna Carta of the environmental movement.” To others it’s a financial drain and threat to private property. The Endangered Species Act has been on the books for almost four decades now, and all this week we’re considering its affect on the wildlife—and people—of New Mexico.
All this week we're considering the Endangered Species Act in New Mexico. Today, KUNM’s Sidsel Overgaard brings you: The Case of the Disappearing Frogs...
The plight of the Chiricahua Leopard frog begins long ago, in a medical lab when researchers devise a way to use frogs as pregnancy tests. The African Clawed frogs used for this purpose were soon shipped all around the world, carrying with them a deadly fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd for short (at least, that's the current favorite theory).
So far in our series, we’ve looked at some of the difficulties in recovering a species. But one of the emerging strengths of the Endangered Species Act is in its ability to spark compromise before a species ever makes it onto the list. And in the case of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush lizard, just the threat of a listing has been enough to make for some unlikely allies in Southeastern New Mexico.
As part of our series on endangered species in New Mexico, Carrie and Sidsel took a field trip with WildEarth Guardians Executive Director, John Horning, to look for the elusive New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (you really should listen to this one...it's a radio geek's dream, but not so translate-able to print...).
You don't have to dig very deep into the ESA's 47 pages before you stumble upon this somewhat surprising passage. You might think that the first state purpose of the Endangered Species Act would be to preserve species. Lo and behold, it's the ecoystem that gets top billing:
No matter where you go in New Mexico, chances are there's a herd of cows nearby, grazing. And while good bit of that grazing is occurring on privately owned land, much of it is also taking place on federally or state owned land. Here Caren Cowan talks to the idea of why she thinks ranchers should not be shut out of public lands.
When you talk to Michael Robinson, there's no doubt, he's passionate about wolf recovery. Because he had so much to tell us, we've decided to share two more clips of his interview with you. In the first one, Michael tells us the story of the Mule Pack and their struggle to survive after being released from the captive breeding program in March of 2000. In the second clip, Michael delves in to the subject of politics and how he thinks they've swayed the folks at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
AT Cole talks about restoring the rare cienega on his ranch, one of only a handful remaining in the Southwest.
One of my favorite quotes in reporting on this series came from Lucinda Cole. She and her husband, AT, are the owners of the ranch near Silver City where Randy Jennings took me looking for Chiracahua Leopard frogs.
When the Coles retired to this ranch, it was with the intention of restoring native habitat that could support endangered species like the Leopard frog and Gila topminnow. But they did not enter the scene naively:
Just like many of his fellow environmentalists, John Horning believes more Mexican Gray Wolves should be released from the captive breeding program, AND that they should be released directly into New Mexico. In this clip, Horning tells us why he thinks politics may be getting in the way of that agenda.
It's not surprising that when we hear from Steve Pearce in the Conservation Agreement story, he's talking about jobs. In this clip, we dive a little deeper into that sentiment, as he discusses potential consequences of an endangered species listing in the Permian Basin.
Hanne Small is pretty relaxed for a woman messing around with the lives of Adam and Eve. When I arrive at Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch to check out New Mexico's largest population of threatened Chiricahua Leopard frogs, Small takes me to a row of beautifully landscaped outdoor cubicles, each containing one or two specimens from the handful of drainages around New Mexico where these frogs can still be found in the wild.