"Monument Official Disputes Claims That Pupfish Endangers Agents"

"SANTA FE — Is the 2-inch-long desert pupfish endangering the lives of U.S. Border Patrol agents?

A conservative publication called Human Events made that claim last week. Then the press secretary for New Mexico's Republican congressman, Steve Pearce, distributed the story as evidence that 'excessive' environmental regulations had put lives at risk.

The story began this way: 'Federal agents must abandon their vehicles and chase drug smugglers and illegal aliens on foot through 40 acres near the Mexican border because of a pond that is home to the endangered desert pupfish.'

The truth is much different from that description, said Lee Baiza, superintendent of Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where the rare pupfish is found.

For starters, the pupfish's area amounts to a single acre, not 40 acres, said Baiza, a native of Carlsbad.

More important, the pupfish's pond rests amid dense vegetation and oak, mesquite and ironwood trees.

Neither border patrol agents nor anybody else can drive a car or truck there, Baiza said."

Milan Simonich reports for the Carlsbad Current-Argus May 25, 2011.

Friday, May 27, 2011