News & Commentary

Do cougars require killing?

A ballot initiative in Colorado would ban the hunting of cougars. Opponents say it would eliminate an essential management tool. This hunter doesn’t buy it.

Lawsuit Challenges NJ Law Giving Hunters Majority on State Fish and Wildlife Council

A former New Jersey state senator filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that effectively gives hunting groups the power to select a majority of the 11-member NJ Fish and Wildlife Council, which sets wildlife policy for the state. The legal challenge was filed in response to the state’s decision to allow a bear hunt in each of the next five years. The judge denied a preliminary injunction to halt the hunt which began this month.
Read more here.

Wildlife for All joins call to end federal funding for state wildlife killing efforts

In response to the state of Alaska killing more than 100 bears and wolves by helicopter in June, supposedly to increase caribou numbers, a coalition of 35 wildlife and Indigenous groups, including Wildlife for All, sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland in August, renewing their demand that federal funds be withheld from states that practice or sanction the killing of native carnivores like wolves.
Read more here.

Sen. Baldwin’s ‘Midwest Gray Wolf Delisting’ Bill epitomizes abysmal wildlife policy

Current wolf conservation policies epitomize the bias of state and federal agencies to allow unjustified and unscientific lethal control through undemocratic processes that ignore diverse public values. As a result, wolves are used as a political bargaining tool by Republicans and Democrats alike. The latest move to delist wolves by US Senators Baldwin and Klobuchar is no exception.
Read this statement by Wildlife for All and our partners to learn more.

State wildlife agencies focus on ‘hook and bullet’ work. Some see a new path. Washington state aims for a broader conservation role.

“Most state wildlife agencies have followed the North American model for wildlife for a century or more,” said state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, a Democrat who championed the measure. “It’s worth looking — is there a better model?” This Stateline article by Alex Brown looks at steps Washington State is taking to democratize and modernize its wildlife management, along the lines Wildlife for All’s reform agenda.
Read more at the Stateline website

NM Governor vetoes bill to overhaul Game Commission

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pocket vetoed a bipartisan bill passed by the NM Legislature that would have made the NM Game Commission more professional and representative of the broad public interest in wildlife. The bill was backed by Wildlife for All and a broad coalition of NM groups, ranging from hunters to animal welfare advocates. The governor’s office has not offered an explanation for her veto.
Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican website

Are Butterflies Wildlife? Depends Where You Live

By Catrin Einhorn

“‘State agencies are really at the forefront of conservation for wildlife,’ said Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society, a nonprofit group that advocates for insect conservation. ‘But in these states where they can’t work on insects, or in some cases any invertebrates, they don’t. So, you see things just languish.'”

Read more here

State wildlife management: A crisis of legitimacy

By Charles Fox

“The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish supports itself by selling off the public’s wildlife for recreational killing. But the vast majority of New Mexicans who do not hunt or fish never agreed to this arrangement, and have virtually no say in how their wildlife is managed.”

Read more here

Wildlife management in New Mexico needs modernizing

By Bryan Bird & Kevin Bixby

“The time for the [New Mexico Department of Game and Fish] to pivot from being a relic of the past to a modern, wildlife conservation agency is long overdue. With the number of species moving toward extinction growing daily, the need is urgent. The Legislature needs to pass modernization and commission reform legislation while also approving license fee increases. It can do that with HB 184 and HB 486.”

Read more here

Game Commission reorganization should become law

By Christopher Smith

“House Bill 184 would improve the State Game Commission, the appointed body that oversees the Department of Game and Fish. The legislation, which already passed its first committee, would help create a commission that represents all New Mexicans and insulates wildlife policy decisions from political whims and financial influence.”

Read more here

Bills aim to overhaul New Mexico Game and Fish management

By Nathan Brown

Two bills focused on reforming wildlife management were recently heard before a New Mexico House Committee. HB 183 would have abolished the state’s Game and Fish Department, while HB 184 would change the way that seats are allocated on the State Wildlife Commission. HB 183 was defeated, but HB 184 made it out of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on a 6-3 vote.

Read more here

Walter Medwid: Fish & Wildlife is unlike any other department in state government

Wildlife for All Advisory Committee member Walter Medwid wrote commentary for the Vermont Digger to highlight the necessity of reforming the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board. 

“The largely uncredentialed Fish and Wildlife Board holds broad regulatory and public policy authority over all game species without the benefit of the public’s voice at the table.” 

Read more here

December 2022 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Executive Director: The Elephant Not In The Room; Did You Know…; This Inspires Us: The Intersectional Environmentalist; Our Coalition Partner: TrapFree Montana; New foundation funder, The Fund for Wild Nature; Join Now.

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New Mexico needs modern wildlife management

By Kevin Bixby

Kevin Bixby, the Executive Director of Wildlife for All, explores the inadequate and dated system of wildlife governance in New Mexico in this op-ed. “To protect our wildlife and stave off extinctions here, modernization is imperative.”

Read more here

Should Utah pay $50 bounties on coyotes killed in controversial contests?

By Brian Maffly

“Late fall marks the resumption of Utah’s wildlife killing contests, where an unknown number of coyotes and other animals are shot by teams angling to take the largest haul of dead “dogs” stacked in the bed of their pickups by the end of the day.”

Events such as these are legal because wildlife managers are trained to ignore the interests of individual animals and only focus on the impacts on populations and species.

Read more here

Hybrid striped bass introduced into Caballo Lake

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish just released over 40,000 hybrid striped bass into Caballo Lake in southern New Mexico. This story illustrates the absurdity of introducing a fish that is a hybrid of two nonnative, piscivorous (fish-eating) species into the state’s waters. There is no conservation value in introducing this fish, only the intention to increase fishing license sales.

Press Release: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Votes to Permanently Eliminate Recreational Spring Bear Hunting

Press Release, Washington Wildlife First

Today, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 5-4 to eliminate recreational spring bear hunting.

“‘We thank the Commissioners for their courage, dedication to scientific integrity and ethical wildlife management, and commitment to representing the values of the people of Washington,’ says Samantha Bruegger, executive director of Washington Wildlife First.”

Read more here

A Bear Hunt is not the Answer, Governor Murphy

By Elissa Frank

“We need to resolve human-bear conflicts using sound science, and we humans must adopt common sense behaviors…Trophy hunting has no role to play in mitigating the kind of human-bear conflict characteristic of our state.” 

Read more here

Wildlife conference braces for discord after including advocacy groups

By Eli Francovich

A key component of Wildlife For All is our belief that wildlife management should be democratic and inclusive of the public’s values and interests. The controversy over being included at The Wildlife Society conference this week in Spokane exemplifies the dominance the sporting and gun industry has in wildlife management.

Read more here

The Free Agent Beaver

From The Revelator

“Beavers are too often seen as a tool for humans, rather than animals with their own agency and agenda.”

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Montana killing generates moral outrage and casts spotlight on our speciesism

From NPR

Recently in Montana, a woman posted on social media that she “smoked a wolf pup” while out hunting bear. The problem is that she didn’t – she killed a domestic husky who’d been dumped in the area earlier that week. The commentary and news stories that followed the event highlight people’s “speciesism,” or preference for one species over another. After all, wolves and dogs may share the same wolf ancestors. The story provoked an outpouring of moral outrage and renewed questions over why Montana’s wolves can be hunted at all. 

Read or listen on NPR

Lessons of a Fish & Wildlife Commissioner

By Fred Koontz

In this article for The Wild Felid Monitor, former Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, Fred Koontz, discusses the looming issue facing wildlife commissions across the U.S.: whose values count most in determining fish and wildlife priorities, regulations, and policies?

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Wildlife Conservation: Does it Have a Heart?

By Don Molde

In this opinion piece, Molde explores the definition of conservation and the importance of expanding that definition to recognize the sentient nature of wildlife. “Fish and wildlife agencies do have a challenge ahead if they want greater public involvement and financial support for their important activities. There are many ways their management techniques could be improved.  It is a matter of attitude and commitment which recognizes the public’s growing recognition and appreciation of the sentient nature of wildlife.”

Read more here

Don’t leave wolf hunting up to experts

By Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, Renee Seacor, and Michelle Lute

This article explores the ethical considerations of coexisting with wolves, and exposes the agencies that are biased towards domination instead of “reciprocal, caring relationships to wildlife that benefit us all.”

Read more here

September 2022 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Executive Director: It’s National What Day? Coming soon: 2023 Calendar Photo Contest, Do You Know: American’s Wildlife Values results in your state,  Our Coalition Partner: Attorneys For Animals, Join Now.

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Letter To The Editor: Gov Gordon’s Praise Of Wyoming Wolf Management Is Wrong

By Kristin Combs

This compelling letter, written by Wildlife for All coalition member Kristin Combs, challenges Wyoming Governor Gordon’s claims that wolf management in the state deserves praise. Combs explores the many ecological and economic benefits of wolves, while disproving the Governor’s claims that wolves are recovered and that the state is using best available science in its management practices.

Read more at the Cowboy State Daily

The Sale of a Product Responsible for Bloodshed and Fear Is Still Tied to Our Wildlife

By Christopher Ketcham

85 years ago, hunters were one of the primary user groups of public lands, and so the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act seemed reasonable. However, over the past century, hunters have become a minority among gun owners, which begs the question, “Should the sale of a product that today is responsible for so much bloodshed, mayhem, fear and social division be tied to the financing of conservation?”

Read more at the New York Times

Why Republicans Turned Against the Environment

By Paul Krugman

In this op-ed in the New York Times, Paul Krugman argues that the current opposition of Republican politicians to environmental protection is not based on ideology or contributions from polluters, but rather because the environment has become part of a culture war with its roots in issues of race and ethnicity. Although Krugman focuses on climate policy, the same argument could be made about wildlife policy, as described in this excellent article in the New Yorker.

Read more at the New York Times

Let’s Talk Hunting: Part 2

By Don Molde

This opinion piece examines the notion of ‘sustainable yield’ versus intrinsic value of wildlife. Don Molde explains the American Wildlife Values survey and the different ways that people view and value wildlife. These values differ widely between the general public and the agencies that manage our wildlife, with agency personnel viewing wildlife “as something akin to property, managed for the sole benefit of humans.”

Read more at the Sierra Nevada Ally

August 2022 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Executive Director: What do Guns have to do with wildlife management, News: The Pittman-Robertson Act, Did You Know: find your state map, This Inspires Us, Our Coalition Partner: Nevada Wildlife Alliance, Spring giving.

Read more

Roadblocks to good wildlife management: beavers could be the answer to flooding and drought issues caused by climate change

With climate change transforming the American West, an industrious mammal could help mitigate some of the worst of the coming drought and flooding crises. The West is getting drier in the dry season and more prone to flooding in the wet season. Beavers could well be a relatively low-cost part of resiliency efforts. As natural ecosystem engineers, these largest-of-North-America’s rodents “increase water storage in ponds and surrounding floodplains, thus slowing winter flows, increasing riparian and meadow water availability and extending stream flow up to six weeks into dry summer seasons.”

Read more at Daily Jstor

Op-Ed: It’s Time to Decouple Wildlife Conservation From the Gun Lobby’s Agenda

Op-Ed in Truthout by Wildlife for All’s Executive Director, Kevin Bixby

It’s time to get guns out of wildlife conservation.

The firearms industry and state wildlife agencies have been joined at the hip since Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Act in 1937. The law redirected an existing federal tax on firearms and ammunition to the states to help restore depleted game populations. The model worked as intended for years, but nonhunting gun buyers have far surpassed hunters as the main source of PR Act funds. At a time of rising gun violence, when there are more guns in the U.S. than people, does it make any sense to be using public funds to encourage more gun use?

Read more at Truthout

Editorial: Why does NM give elk-hunt permits to private landowners, fire commissioners who question the status quo?

By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board

This editorial looks at the current flawed system in which New Mexico Game and Fish Commissioners are appointed and removed by the Governor with little to no oversight. This year, two commissioners were dismissed because their positions clashed with those of the governor. All appointed commissioners are supposed to by confirmed by the state Senate, although that has not happened in recent years.  “The system is stacked so the only qualification to serve is showing fealty to the governor rather than making independent decisions about a resource you’re entrusted to manage and protect on behalf of the residents of New Mexico. That has to change.”

Read more at Albuquerque Journal

Conserving – not killing – wildlife should drive Wisconsin’s natural resources strategy

By Fred Koontz & Adrian Treves

This op-ed examines Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and its priorities (which are at odds with current human values and biodiversity needs). “Clarifying the DNR’s mandate around a top priority of conserving all wildlife for all people will provide a unifying direction for the floundering board and strengthen the department’s biodiversity mission. Changing the department’s purpose recognizes that government agencies require modifications as society’s needs and public values change.” 

Read more at Isthmus

Lead ammo and fishing tackle is dangerous for wildlife health, yet legislators resist ban

By Michael Doyle

TUS Fish and Wildlife Service plans to open and expand hunting and fishing at 19 wildlife refuges which will open up 54,000 acres of land to hunting and fishing. While the federal agency will limit these opportunities to non-lead shells, ammo, and tackle, opposing senators have argued that “Policies or actions that reduce or limit sportsmen activities necessarily implicate wildlife conservation programs by affecting state agencies’ revenue.” These legislators are holding funding hostage in wildlife policymaking by urging the FWS Director not to ban lead. 

Read more at E&E News

Whose values count most in determining Vermont’s fish and wildlife priorities, regulations and public policies?

By Walter Medwid

In this op-ed Medwid writes, “Vermonters should rethink the focus of the Fish & Wildlife Department. Threats to biodiversity and shifting human values challenge the underpinnings of the department and the Fish & Wildlife Board…Whose values count most in determining Vermont’s fish and wildlife priorities, regulations, and public policies?”

Read more in the Vermont Digger

Refocus Fish and Wildlife mandate on conservation

By Fred Koontz.

In this op-ed by former Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission member Fred Koontz, he describes the current state of the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife as a ‘political quagmire.’ “States are obligated to protect wildlife for current and future generations. The sad truth is that we are failing.”

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New Mexico and wildlife — still more work to do

By Chris Smith.

On April 1st, Roxy’s Law, which bans traps, snares, and poisons on public lands, went into effect in New Mexico. Despite this progress, New Mexico isn’t the beacon of wildlife management that it should be.

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Roxy’s Law a win, but wildlife governance needs reform

By Charles Fox.

Last year, NM passed Roxy’s Law, which will ban traps, snares, and poisons on public lands. The state Legislature also recently banned coyote-killing contests. However, the Department of Game and Fish allowed these cruel practices to continue for years despite massive opposition. “The Game Department’s backward policies are badly out of step with mainstream society and show little sign of improving. There is no excuse for repeating the mistakes and abuses of the past, no matter how longstanding.”

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Stop the slaughter of predators: Reform wildlife management

By David Stalling.

In the most recent post from his blog “From The Wild Side: Wild Thoughts from an Untamed Heart,” David discusses the immediate need for wildlife governance reform, citing the specific atrocities happening right now in the state of Montana.

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Press Release: Game of Groans – Fossil fuel lobbyist appointed to New Mexico Game Commission

Game of Groans: Fossil fuel lobbyist appointed to New Mexico Game Commission. Wildlife advocates decry extractive industry’s disproportionate representation.

Today, in a move that only intensifies the conservation community’s frustration towards the Commission and administration, NM Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham selected a senior ExxonMobil employee to serve on the public commission that oversees wildlife policy in the state.

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Opinion: Wildlife running for their lives

By Deborah Slicer. Originally published in the Missoulian.

This article examines Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks commission and the dysfunctionality of the state’s current wildlife management system.

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Latest dismissal reveals need to reform Game Commission

By Kevin Bixby and Jesse Deubel. Originally published in The Albuquerque Journal.

Following the governor’s latest dismissal of one of her appointed members, there are currently three empty seats on the 7-member New Mexico State Game Commission. This op-ed explores the need to either abolish or reform the commission.

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Experts propose new methods for managing Wisconsin wildlife

This radio story from Public News Service features Wildlife for All Executive Director Kevin Bixby and Board member Adrian Treves. This story covering the gray wolf relisting decision looks beyond the immediate ruling to the systemic problems with wildlife management today.

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WA State Senate introduces several bills that aim to reform Fish and Wildlife Commission

Members of the Washington State Senate introduced several bills that would make changes to how and who selects the members who serve on the state Fish and Wildlife Commission. One bill would give authority to the Legislature to fill empty commission seats if the Gov doesn’t act within 12 months. The other bill would take away the power of the fish and wildlife commission to hire the Department director and give it to the elected State Lands Commissioner. It would also take away the power of the governor to appoint commissioners, and give it to the State Lands commissioner.

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NM Department of Game and Fish considers stocking nonnative hybrid bass

Less than half of New Mexico’s native fish species are protected by law, yet the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish wants to introduce another nonnative fish species into the state. A department spokesperson could not point to any conservation benefits when questioned about the introduction of this species.

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Species in Peril: Defending the Arctic Refuge ~ Wildlife for All ~ Picture Ecology

The Species in Peril project at the University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public service initiative. The project was founded in April 2020 to foster conversations, creative production, public scholarship, and grassroots initiatives to bring attention to the intensifying crisis of biological annihilation, which includes human-caused species extinctions, mass die-offs and massacres. In their most recent newsletter they gave Wildlife for All a shoutout.

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In tied vote, Washington commissioners suspend controversial spring bear hunt

By Eli Francovich. The Spokesman-Review.

This article highlights an important example of a wildlife commission following the will of the public. Due to an unfilled commission seat, the vote ended in a 4-4 tie putting the controversial bear hunt on hold. The commissioners that voted against the hunt questioned WDFW’s population data and cited public opinion as a main reason for their vote.

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Panel won’t ban coyote-killing contests

By Carol Shaye. Reno News & Review.

The article discusses the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners 5-4 vote against banning coyote-killing contests. However, as the article mentions, at least one Nevada lawmaker has vowed to bring the issue to the Nevada Legislature if the wildlife board failed to impose a ban. Changing the composition of the commission is also something legislators may consider.

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How a B.C. conservation officer’s refusal to kill two bear cubs sparked a debate about managing wildlife

By Nancy MacDonald. Originally published in The Globe and Mail.

Although this story is about events in Canada, it illustrates how provincial wildlife management, like its counterpart in state wildlife management in the U.S., is driven by an ethos of domination (often leading to the death of wildlife) rather than coexistence, a predictable result perhaps of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation’s view of wild animals as soulless resources.

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Does culture war fit with the state’s hunting values?

By Henry Redman. Reprinted by permission.

This article from the Wisconsin Examiner illustrates how wildlife issues are about much more than wildlife. They are about values, identities and power, and ultimately about who gets to decide what our relationship with non-human nature and the planet will be.

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Opinion: Fighting Hate With Love and Lawsuits

By Michelle Lute. Originally published in Earth Island Journal.

Wisconsin’s war on wolves is a war on its people, particularly the disenfranchised voices that speak up for a moral, just life. But their voices will not be silenced.

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Opinion: Missouri’s upcoming black bear trophy hunt is reckless and irresponsible

By Cody Atkinson. Originally published in the Missouri Independent

With its trophy hunt on black bears in the state set to begin in a few days, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has taken a reckless and irresponsible turn. A turn against science. A turn against ecology. A turn against public values.

Like many wildlife agencies around the country, and driven by its governor-appointed commission, the MDC is trapped in a century-old mindset, one that assumes we must kill bears to conserve them.

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Opinion: Nevada’s wildlife commission is broken. Is it beyond repair?

By Patrick Donnelly. This piece originally appeared in the Nevada Independent

Nevada’s Board of Wildlife Commissioners is intentionally designed to protect the entrenched interests of people who shoot wildlife. By promoting policies exclusively designed to improve opportunity for hunters, they have perpetuated an unjust system which benefits a small number of Nevadans.

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Wildlife for All national campaign launched to transform wildlife conservation

(LAS CRUCES, NM) Today the Southwest Environmental Center announced that it is launching Wildlife for All, a national campaign to reform state wildlife management to be more ecological-driven, democratic and compassionate.

“This is the culmination of our three decades of advocacy for wildlife,” said Kevin Bixby, executive director. “Wildlife management in every state is stuck in the past, a legacy of when wild animals were viewed as inanimate resources, without consideration of their importance in natural ecosystems or intrinsic worth. It’s time to align our conservation efforts with modern ecological knowledge and changing public attitudes. We can’t stave off the Sixth Extinction crisis without this kind of systemic change.”

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