March Deals Blow to Recovery – 9 Mexican Gray Wolves Dead in Single Month
Deadly Month for Lobos
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) announced in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update that five critically endangered Mexican gray wolves – three in New Mexico and two in Arizona – were found dead last month.
In Arizona, wildlife officials found Mexican gray wolf f1792 (a.k.a. “Paprika”) and an uncollared male wolf associated with the Wolf Mountain pack in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest and have announced a reward of up to $37,000 for information regarding the deaths.
One of the wolves found dead in New Mexico was uncollared, the two others were identified as Mexican wolves mp1845 (a.k.a. “Sumo” ) and M1821 (a.k.a. “Avlavis”).
These incidents are currently under investigation.
Also in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) secretly authorized the killing of four additional Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico on behalf of the livestock industry. Because the USFWS has a policy of not making these removal orders transparent to the public, stakeholders learned of the killings via three memos posted online after the fact.
“The Wolf Conservation Center has committed nearly 20 years of resources to Mexican gray wolf recovery in partnership with USFWS,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center. “That our partners are open to delivering this unnecessary blow to lobo recovery is beyond disappointing. Given the species’ precarious status, killing should never be a management tool.”
Peer-reviewed research demonstrates that killing predators is not only a crude and ineffective solution to deter depredation on cows, it can even result in increased attacks. Moreover, removals are disruptive to pack dynamics and can also give rise to yet further conflict.
Studies show that non-lethal measures are the best means for protecting cattle, sheep, and other domestic animals from depredation. Such methods include sanitary carcass removal, fladry, synchronizing birthing seasons with native ungulates, changing livestock types or breeds, spotlights, airhorns, guard animals, range riders, electric fencing, and Foxlights.
Despite the benefits of nonlethal methods, neither the Fish and Wildlife Service nor the U.S. Forest Service requires livestock permittees to take any non-lethal measures to prevent conflicts with wolves on public lands, including our national forests.
At last count, there are an estimated 163 Mexican gray wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico.
Mexican gray wolves are the most genetically distinct lineage of gray wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act.