Both of the most recent “My Turn” letters have included half-truths and misinformation. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep are a protected big game species in New Mexico, not endangered. The state does not “cash in” on selling licenses and tags, but rather replenishes the primary source of funding for past and future reintroductions.
The RMBHS herd within the Rio Grande Gorge, as every distinct population of wild animals, has to be managed. Normally disease, predators and even fluctuations in local weather keep wildlife populations in balance.
The surplus or net increases in a population can either expand to new ranges or be harvested by hunters. No such thing as static populations or perpetual “proliferation” of populations exists.
Hunting is a valuable tool since this population cannot be allowed to expand much beyond the gorge. Domestic sheep and goats carry pathogens for which wild sheep have no immunity. Any biologist or naturalist knows the dire consequences of having wild sheep in direct contact with domestics.
In truth, conservation dollars and increases in big game populations go hand in hand. Sportsmen keep the conservation programs funded to the tune of $746 million per year. Most is derived from purchase of licenses and tags. This has been true since the time of President Theodore Roosevelt and the advent of reintroductions of species and managed hunting,
The public should appreciate our diverse habitats and wildlife. Do not forget, however, the great efforts and successes of our state wildlife agencies and sportsmen who fund programs such as the re-establishment of bighorn to the gorge.
The only “twisted logic” is in not understanding how far our local wildlife have come in the last 100 years.
– Scott Draney, El Prado