Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- WESTERN GRAY WOLF-25 YEARS
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Wolves have repopulated the mountains and forests of the American West with remarkable speed since their reintroduction 25 years ago. They've expanded to more than 300 packs in six states. Now voters in Colorado are poised to give the predators another boost in their rebound from extinction in the region last century. A Nov. 3 ballot initiative seeks to reintroduce them to the western half of the state, where cattle ranchers and hunting guides see the return of wolves as a threat. The Trump administration on Thursday stripped wolves of government protections across most of the U.S. That puts their future in the hands of state wildlife agencies.
- NAVAJO NATION-HEMP LAWSUIT
SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is suing nearly three dozen people, accusing them of illegally growing hemp or marijuana on the reservation. The lawsuit filed earlier this week in the Shiprock District Court in northwestern New Mexico says the operations are contaminating the tribe's water, land and other natural resources. It's the second such lawsuit the tribe's Department of Justice has filed this year. The tribe does not have a regulatory system for industrial hemp on the vast reservation that spans parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
- DRY NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The record-breaking winter storm brought much needed precipitation to most of New Mexico this week. But forecasters say drought conditions are expected to persist at least through February as the odds are leaning toward a drier than normal winter. New Mexico State University will be hosting a series of virtual sessions for farmers and ranchers on drought management and the water outlook starting next week. The first will focus on southern New Mexico and another is planned for the north the following week. The latest drought map shows about two-thirds of the state are classified as being in extreme or exceptional drought.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The chief medical officer for the largest hospital system in New Mexico says the state is at a pivotal point involving the coronavirus. Dr. Jason Mitchell with Presbyterian Healthcare Services says the data is clear that the state stands to face severe pressure on its health care system if the spread of COVID-19 continues at its current rate. New Mexico on Thursday set new records for the daily case count and hospitalizations. State health officials also say the number of deaths related to the virus are on the rise. Nearly 1,000 people have died in New Mexico.
- ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top election regulator says she is optimistic that an uncertified tally of votes can be accomplished statewide within one or two days after Election Day. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Thursday that voting is expected to be robust through Election Day amid a major shift toward voting by absentee ballots that take longer to tally. More than 660,000 votes had been cast as of Thursday morning, closing in on the high mark of 833,000 for the 2008 presidential election.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — The Trump administration has removed gray wolves in most of the U.S. from the endangered species list. Thursday's action ends longstanding federal safeguards for the predators in the Lower 48 states, except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. The announcement just days ahead of the election could allow hunting of the animals to resume in Great Lakes states -- a battleground region in the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Gray wolves have recovered from near extinction in parts of the country but remain absent from much of their historical range. Biologists who reviewed the administration's plan to strip protection from wolves say it lacked scientific justification.
- STATE PARK OPENING
DENVER (AP) — A small portion of the newest state park in Colorado is scheduled to open beginning this weekend. The Denver Post reports Fishers Peak State Park is expected to open following a ribbon cutting Friday by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. The new park eventually will encompass 30 square miles, but less than 1 square mile will open this weekend. Fishers Peak is located 7 miles north of the New Mexico border. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say they want the limited opening to give the public a sense of the hiking, hunting and wildlife opportunities the park will offer.
- CLINT EASTWOOD-FILM PRODUCTION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Warner Bros. has announced production of a new Clint Eastwood film is set to take place in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reported that the 90-year-old Oscar winner will direct and star in the film "Cry Macho." No other cast member has been announced. The casting agency said production is scheduled from Nov. 4 through Dec. 16 in the Albuquerque area. The film is based on the book of the same name by Richard Nash. Eastwood will play a one-time rodeo star and horse breeder in 1978 who takes a job from a former boss to bring the man's young son home. Extras casting is currently underway for the project.