Since March 2, 2013, you and Bold Visions Conservation have battled the City of Clovis, New Mexico, and a fair share of ignorance and petulance, to try to prevent prairie dogs from being poisoned.
Frankly, it's been exhausting.
You, our faithful members and supporters have been there all the way, doing more than we've ever seen a group of people do, often from thousands of miles away...over 50,000 people, representing more than 125 countries worldwide.
Simply amazing. We can never thank you enough; but before the final bell, you may be asked to step in the ring once again.
Bold Visions has had experience dealing with opposing parties; not just Executive Director Stephen Capra (E.D. of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance for 9 years), but our board of directors as well: they include Eco-pioneers like Wes Leonard, who knows the Gila Wilderness better than Aldo Leopold did; Arturo Sandoval...he actually co-founded Earth Day; and Jerry Black, who has been actively fighting trapping and wolf killing in Montana for over a decade. We've had our share of confrontations.
The conservation community's dealings with anti-environmentalists has been very much like President Obama's dealings with the Republicans: compromise to the point of incapacitation. The results have been as egregious as well: wolves, coyotes, prairie dogs and apex predators taking a deadly pounding as a result...unconscionable.
Our experiences are the reason BVC was formed...we couldn't stand by and watch the blatant and continuing habitat destruction, wildlife slaughter, and animal cruelty the name 'varmint' has brought any longer; it was time to be BOLD.
So, on March 2, 2013, when we saw an Albuquerque Journal article, "Clovis approves prairie dog poisoning plan," we leaped into action. More precisely, we created an Action on causes.com. We asked you to write and call the City of Clovis, its Mayor and City Commissioners (listed all their contact info too), and asked you to tell them to "Stop The Poisoning!"
WOW! Did you ever come through!!!
On March 5, 2013, Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas called and asked Stephen Capra to "please stop whatever it is that you're doing," and--for the first time--came to the negotiating table. Hundreds of YOUR calls and thousands of YOUR emails had flooded in--making the daily business of the City of Clovis effectively grind to a halt...who could ask for more?
OK, here's where WE were naïve:
We should've taken notice...you see, in the wake of celebrating YOUR victory over the City of Clovis, came several accusations that we (you) had NOT in fact stopped the poisoning, that the City was merely finished poisoning for the season. The main detractor was Joanne Haddock of Citizens for Prairie Dogs, but apparently the entire tight-knit prairie dog 'community' was up in arms over our claims of your accomplishments.
It appears that since BVC wasn't expressing itself with impotent public outcries, or lamenting the cruelty of their fellow man in a conference call, or calling the State Representative whose largest donor is a rancher...well, we hadn't really DONE anything at all.
No, in fact what happened is, we got ANGRY.
We also looked at the problem, decided which course of action would be most effective, communicated our anger to YOU (your Anger concurred), and what ACTION was NEEDED to help us was communicated to YOU, and it was YOU who did the rest.
To this day, the 'community' 'feels' that we (BVC and you) are LIARS, and that our aggression has far-reaching implications; that the series of meaningless County Ordinances popping up around the southwest (illegally) banning the transportation of prairie dogs through their simplistic, little quadrants of ignorance. We felt that there were grounds for ignoring these ordinances legally, and sought a (donated) legal opinion: guess what? Yes, the ordinances are indeed nothing but moronic hot air, just as we thought.
We always want to work together with other groups, but are you beginning to see the mentality we're dealing with?
on the evening of March 5th, we spoke with Joanne Haddock, and told her about our agreement with Joe Thomas. She was wary, but suggested that we contact Susan Hubby, an activist for prairie dogs in Clovis; she could provide better information than anyone on the location, quantity and condition of the prairie dogs the City wanted to kill so bad.
So you know, BVC is knowledgeable of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) offices and BLM land holdings in New Mexico--hey, we're supposed to. We contacted the Roswell BLM Office, and in a matter of a few weeks secured permission to relocate Clovis' prairie dogs to the BLM's Sand Ranch complex. Sand Ranch is huge, a 120,000-acre plot of land, permanently retired from cattle grazing, and set aside as endangered lesser prairie chicken habitat.
Sand Ranch was truly the ideal location for the persecuted Clovis Prairie Dogs to finally call home.
We didn't stop there. We contacted Colonel Robert Griego of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department's Enforcement Division, to make sure that transportation of prairie dogs was permitted, and received confirmation that there were no regulations that prevented such trans-location; the Department had no objections whatsoever to the move.
Nothing Bold Visions Conservation did was extraordinary; we merely performed due diligence, only what we considered to be a competent, thorough and professional job, making the preparations we were expected to.
We set a meeting on May 5, 2103 (see below), with Bill Buzzell, Director of Clovis Parks and Recreation. The group included Mr. Buzzell, BLM Field Biologist Dan Baggao, Joanne Haddock and Susan Hubby, representing Citizens for Prairie Dogs, and Stephen Capra and Joe Adair of BVC. We toured the sites, including Ned Houk Park and Goodwin Lake Walking Trail with Mr. Buzzell, and Potter Park in Mr. Buzzell's absence (he had a meeting to attend), but discussed the site with him prior to his departure. We all agreed on the parameters discussed during the tour to be a good, solid, 'win-win' relocation plan.
After the tour, we parted ways with Dan Baggao, and took Susan Hubby to a couple of grocers, and arranged for food donations to feed the near-starved little creatures. We also bought food over the coming months (thanks to your donations!) to feed the little critters.
Read the Clovis News Journal article here:
As a result of the meeting, the BLM issued a letter memorializing the agreement we had reached. The City Commission later denied the City's agreement was valid, and killed the relocation project the night before it was to begin.
You know the rest of the story...unfortunately...ALMOST.
That prairie dog 'community' (club?) we talked about? They also SUSPECTED (but they never asked, mind you) that our awesome, super-volunteers, Peggy and Judy, who flew standby out of Florida and drove into Clovis, were actually a prairie dog relocation team BVC brought in, to...TAKE OVER the relocation.
Now, we can understand how that mistake could happen: after all, Florida IS a notorious hotspot for relocation services for Great Plains wildlife, and The Prairie Dog Club's confusion was only compounded by the fact that we referred to Peggy and Judy repeatedly as 'volunteers' on our website and on Facebook. You can see how suspicions were raised!
Can you believe these people? They chose to manufacture rumors and disseminate them, like we were THEIR ENEMY!
This logical gem, and our 'aggressive' (AKA 'effective') tactics led Joanne Haddock to inform BVC that she would no longer work with us, that she "has a plan" to relocate the prairie dogs to Texas...in other words, we were no longer welcome in The Prairie Dog Club.
That bit of news arrived the night we announced that Ted Turner had offered to relocate the prairie dogs to his Ladder Ranch, in Sierra County, NM.
We knew that, even if the Clovis City Commission demanded that Sierra County, New Mexico grant permission, the fact that the vast majority of Sierra County--IS--the 150,000-acre Ladder Ranch and the 362,885-acre Armendaris Ranch, that the likelihood of such a denial is very, very slim indeed.
We had made the ultimate deal for the Clovis Prairie Dogs, and the only prairie dog relocator in the entire region had just abandoned us in the 11th hour.
Joanne Haddock was warned: "You DO realize that [the Mayor and City Commission] will use the same tactic they did when they denied our first relocation request? They'll call the county where your relocation site is, and ask that county to block you."
"You do know that, right?"
Her only reply was, "I've been doing this for 10 years, I know how to deal with these people."
But no amount of reasoning would prevail; 20,000 acres in "I- don't-know-how-they-work" (AKA, Mitchell County, Texas is a much better choice.
Watch the video and see what happened at 1:12:20
This infighting is horrible enough, but this entire prairie dog 'community' is responsible for Joanne Haddock's ill-prepared, unprofessional fiasco at the October 3, 2013 Clovis City Commission meeting. This prairie dog 'club' operated on rumor instead of facts, and chose to treat people helping their cause with enmity. It is not just a horrible way to treat people in general, they may well have caused the death of hundreds of innocent animals.
More than anything, we hope that Mitchell County, Texas grants permission to Joanne Haddock, and that the relocation if granted, gets renewed. We also hope the City of Clovis doesn't arbitrarily poison the prairie dog anyhow.
If Haddock is indeed denied, Bold Visions Conservation will pursue the intent of its letter to the City of Clovis, dated October 2, 2013, through the New Mexico justice system, if possible.
Betrayal is tough no matter how you slice it, but they didn't just betray us, they betrayed all of you, took your donations, then turned their backs on you as thanks. This is not how the environmental community should work together...there is simply too much at stake for petty squabbles.