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Wild Wolf Pup Dragging Leghold Trap in Gila

Another pup is undergoing treatment as private trapping continues to take a toll on endangered species and public lands

For immediate release – November 27, 2019

Media Contacts:

  • Chris Smith, WildEarth Guardians (505) 795-2895
  • Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center (914) 763-2373
  • Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520) 623-1878
  • Mary Katherine Ray, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club (575) 537-1095

RESERVE, NM – An endangered wild wolf pup in the Gila National Forest has more than the usual number of threats to his survival right now. A leghold trap being used on public lands became detached from the trap anchor and the lobo is on the loose with their foot in the trap. Another male pup was also caught and is in captivity at a medical facility awaiting release into the wild. 

“It’s business as usual here in New Mexico with endangered species being caught in leghold traps,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “But, the New Mexico Game Commission is standing by our state’s archaic trapping laws even while a wolf pup is running around with a trap on their leg.”

A total of 39 Mexican wolves have been caught, injured, maimed, or killed by traps since the recovery program began in 1998. Recreational and commercial trapping is legal on nearly all public lands in New Mexico. Endangered Mexican wolves and domestic dogs are frequently caught and sometimes maimed or even killed. The New Mexico Game Commission is currently considering very minor changes to the trapping rule that wildlife advocates say are inadequate. Legislation to ban private trapping on public lands passed two House legislative committees in New Mexico this year.

 “The practice of trapping is as outdated as the mindset that vilifies predators instead of recognizing their important place on the landscape,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “Every effort must be made to free this young wolf from this painful trap.” 

“The scenario of a wild wolf pulling the trap from its mooring to escape with the trap still attached to their paw has played out before”, said Mary Katherine Ray, Wildlife Chair for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “With blood circulation cut off especially now as a cold winter storm rolls in, it almost always results in amputation if not something worse. The senseless suffering this animal is now enduring by legally allowing trapping is indecent.”

“The captive lobo needs to be returned to his family as soon as possible,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center. “Wolves are highly social animals, much like humans, with the capacity to love, worry, and grieve. To have a family member disappear like this, a pup of the year no less, must have the family very worried.  It is especially sad to think of him alone in a cage in during the same week when we’re all gathering with our families.”

A map of New Mexico’s trapping accidents is available online.