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Young Mexican gray wolf dies during handling in Arizona

El Paso Times/Associated Press August 20, 2013 (posted 8/21/13)

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SILVER CITY - A yearling Mexican gray wolf died over the weekend in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona during what Fish and Wildlife called "routine handling," according to a news release from them. Members of the Mexican wolf interagency field team from the Arizona Game and Fish Department were conducting an intentional capture effort using the approved protocol to fit radio-telemetry collars on members of the Bluestem Pack that remained uncollared, when f1289, a previously collared animal, was captured in a padded foot trap.

The trap sent a signal when it sprung and experienced team members were on site within 15 minutes. The animal moved the trap into rocky terrain on the edge of a slope, making it difficult for the team to process the wolf. Using a catch pole and Y-pole (like those used for capturing and restraining domestic dogs), the team removed f1289 from the trap and during processing found that she was no longer breathing. Emergency treatment including CPR was unsuccessful in reviving the wolf.

The team on site had years of wolf capture experience and had just completed a refresher capture training course the week prior, the release states. The death was the third capture-related mortality in the wild in the 15-year history of the Mexican wolf reintroduction project, according to Fish and Wildlife.

"The loss of this wolf is a very unfortunate and unusual outcome to a routine management activity that is necessary to the recovery of the Mexican wolf," said Chairman John Harris of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. "Radio collars are the best method for tracking wolves and knowing where the wolves are is critical for effective management."

The Service will be conducting a necropsy at a veterinary diagnostic lab in Albuquerque, to determine the cause of death.

The Mexican gray wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976 after it was nearly wiped out by government trapping and poisoning designed to help cattle ranchers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article appeared in several newspapers, including the El Paso Times, the Arizona Republic, the Alamogordo Daily News, and The Republic.
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Please act today to ensure the future of critically endangered Mexican wolves .

This tragic death highlights the dangers of trapping* Mexican wolves and is one of many reasons that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to trap and move any wolf that wanders north or south of the arbitrary I-10 to I-40 boundary threatens the wolves’ recovery. This means more trapping, and more trapping means more chances for unfortunate deaths like this.  Mexican wolves are on the edge of extinction and can’t stand more risks.  The USFWS needs to abandon its proposal to capture and return wolves that disperse north and south and needs to release many more wolves from captivity. Every one of these wolves is essential.

Please submit comments on the proposal today, using the information provided here.

*US Fish and Wildlife Service’s claim that only three Mexican wolf deaths related to capture have occurred is inconsistent with the record, which shows nineteen wolves have been lost to capture related mortality since the reintroduction began. Many of these wolves did not die immediately in the wild, as Little Wild (F1289) did, but died in captivity as a result of the capture.

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