As you may have seen in the extensive news coverage over the last few days, Caldera Action has joined two other environmental groups and issued a Notice of Intent to Sue the National Park Service for their failure to control trespass cattle in endangered species habitat at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. We are concerned that cattle are damaging habitat for western jumping mouse, Jemez Mountain salamander and fish species. These species are protected under the Endangered Species Act and federal agencies are obligated to protect their habitat by law.
Since 2017, the NPS has done nothing effective to control cattle flowing into the Preserve from US Forest Service grazing allotments on the Park’s northern boundary. Likewise, the US Forest Service has done nothing. At latest count there were 200 cattle in the Preserve. The cattle should be rounded up and impounded. The owners should be notified for removal and fined. Any cattle without brands belong to the State of New Mexico and could be removed for auction by the New Mexico Livestock Board.
This is just the Notice of Intent. But we and our colleagues will file suit if the NPS does not make a serious effort to prevent a repeat of this damage next summer.
We are working with Western Watersheds Project, and Wildearth Guardians as signatories on the NOI. We are also working with New Mexico Wild and New Mexico Wildlife Federation on other aspects of the case.
All of these groups are concerned by damage cattle are causing to wetlands, streams, and grasslands in the Caldera. We are concerned about cattle trampling sensitive woodland areas where the endangered Jemez Mountain Salamander lives. The cattle are significantly damaging the fishery and elk habitat. Hunters and fishers have good reason to be concerned.
Please write the VCNP Superintendent and ask him to act to permanently remove the cattle from our Preserve. He could enforce the law, issue fines, impound trespass cattle, monitor the north fence for vandalism, use park staff to maintain the north fence regularly, ask for help from the New Mexico Livestock Board for cattle removal.
Messages from the public to park officials are useful and powerful. Here’s the contact:
Superintendent Jorge Silva-Banuelos. Jorge_silvafirstname.lastname@example.org
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