Mexican Wolves Continue To Overcome Unique Challenges
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently released its 3rd quarter Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Quarterly Update. The updates share information on Mexican Wolf Recovery Program activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona. Unfortunately, though the total wolf populations had risen to 112 in New Mexico and 84 in Arizona by the end of 2021, there were several new deaths to report in this update.
In Arizona, two wolves were reported as mortalities with m2605, a juvenile male from the HooDoo Pack, being captured in July after reports of poor health. After consultation with a veterinarian, m2605 was euthanized due to complications from canine distemper and other illnesses. The other wolf, F2751, an adult female from the New Pack, was found dead in July and the incident is currently under investigation. This comes after a publically cited incident on July 6th, in which F2751 was spotted at a ranch near Vernon. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) responded by pushing her and the other wolf from the area, but she was found dead soon thereafter.
In New Mexico, an additional two wolves were reported as mortalities. AF1837 from the Beaver Point pack, an adult breeding female, was found dead in July, and the casualty is currently under investigation. Similarly, a wolf pup, m2594 from the Lava Pack, was found dead in July, and that is still under investigation as well.
In addition to these confirmed mortalities, one wolf, a breeding male, AM1158 became “fate unknown” in August after 3 months of no documentation by the IFT. While we hope for the best, recent research suggests that we can often expect the worst in these situations.
The full third quarter updates, sorted by region and wolf pack, can be found below:
Fort Apache Indian Reservation:
Rewards For Turning In Poachers
To their credit, the USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000, and the AZGFD and NMDGF are each offering awards of $1000 for information leading to the conviction of individuals involved with the shooting deaths of wolves. Additionally, rewards of up to $37,000 have been raised by non-governmental organizations and individuals.
Cross Fostering Complications
Another interesting note is that while cross-fostering has proven to be an effective way to get pups born into captivity into the wild, it doesn’t always work out. For example, the report shows that F1889 who was originally cross fostered from the HooDoo Pack, became classified as a single wolf in September after her collar data showed she’s been traveling alone for at least 3 months.
The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. With just a single population in the United States numbering 196 wolves as of 2021, numerous threats, including widespread illegal killing and genetic decline, threaten this already fragile population.