Federal Agency Kills Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Father on Behalf of Livestock Industry
On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the very agency charged by federal law to recover and protect endangered species, authorized the killing of endangered Mexican gray wolf M1441 on behalf of the livestock industry.
It took federal agents 3 days to kill the collared wolf. He only had three legs.
Mexican wolf M1441, affectionately named “Kiko” by a middle school student in a nationwide contest, was the breeding male of the Saffel pack. Up until the end of last year, he lived with his mate AF1567 (Lupin), daughter f1833 (Yuma) and their pups of 2019 – including Hope, the Mexican wolf born at the Wolf Conservation Center who was cross-fostered into the family to boost the genetic diversity, and overall numbers, of the wild population.
In November of 2019, however, tragedy stuck the Saffel family when M1441 suffered severe injuries from a trap set by USFWS in a routine management exercise. He was subsequently brought into captivity for amputation surgery and returned to wild the next month.
The family suffered further heartbreak a month later when his yearling daughter f1833 was found dead in Arizona. This incident remains under investigation.
In the following months, M1441 was observed traveling separate from his family in the northeastern portion of the Apache – Sitgreaves National Forest, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s monthly status reports. He was never to reunite with his family before his untimely death at the hands of federal agents.
USFWS has a policy of not making removal orders transparent to the public until after they’re closed. The USFWS posted the decision memorandum online.
The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. With just a single population in the United States numbering 163, numerous threats, including widespread illegal killing and genetic decline, menace the fragile population.
USFWS manages wild Mexican gray wolves via a 2015 management rule deemed as inadequate by the scientific community for arbitrarily limiting population numbers, banning wolves from needed recovery habitat, and increasing allowable killing.
In a 2018 decision, a Federal Court largely rejected the management rule for failure to further the conservation of the Mexican wolf. The Court ordered the USFWS to remedy numerous deficiencies in the rule and issue a new science-based rule by May of 2021.