Biologists get the ax

  Seven biologists are on the endangered list after a budget cut at New Mexico's state wildlife agency. In April, Republican Gov. Gary Johnson vetoed $620,000 in state and federal matching funds for the state's management of all nongame wildlife.

The funds were earmarked for staff positions in environmental education and endangered species protection. "Our intent is for no one to lose their job, but that's going to take some creative financing," says New Mexico Department of Game and Fish spokesman Luke Shelby.

Game and Fish, however, cannot use money from the sale of hunting licenses for the Conservation Services positions.

Many environmental and sportsmen's groups opposed the governor's cuts. The agency also found an ally in Democratic state Sen. DeDe Feldman, who unsuccessfully tried to restore the cuts during a special session of the state Legislature in early May.

"In a state richly endowed with one of the most diverse arrays of wildlife species in the country, the scope of Conservation Services' legally mandated responsibilities is mind-boggling," Feldman wrote in an Albuquerque Journal opinion piece. "Gov. Gary Johnson's head-in-the-sand approach to budget cutting makes me wonder if he and his advisers have flown the coop."

*Michelle Nijhuis

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