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In the News: Female wolves will boost gene pool

Albuquerque Journal 2/18/14 (posted 2/27/14)

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By Lauren Villagran / Journal Staff Writer - Las Cruces Bureau

Two wolves in, one out.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will introduce two endangered Mexican wolves into the wild and remove another, the agency said.

An interagency field team took two male wolves from the wild in January and paired them with two females in captivity. When the couples are released in Arizona, the females will be considered “new” to the wild population – and important contributors to a gene pool that has been taxed by inbreeding, according to the agency.

“The pairing of genetically valuable females with males with wild experience accomplishes two goals, adding genetically valuable genes into the population and replacing wolves that were taken illegally,” Benjamin Tuggle, Fish and Wildlife Southwest Regional Director, said in a statement.

The two “new” wolves will replace two of the four wolves that were illegally killed last year.

The agency has been managing the reintroduction of the species to national forests in New Mexico and Arizona. A 2013 census showed a minimum of 83 wolves in the wild, up from 75 wolves in 2012. It was the fourth consecutive year of population growth.

“This population needs a big infusion of new genes from the captive population,” said Michael Robinson, a wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Two additional wolves are a very important first step but aren’t nearly enough to combat the ongoing inbreeding.”

In a Feb. 12 memorandum, the Fish and Wildlife Southwest office said it plans to capture an uncollared wolf in the Gila National Forest in response to a series of cattle depredations. The memorandum attributed the deaths of four cows in a recent 10-day period to an uncollared wolf in the Fox Mountain pack’s territory.

Clashes with ranchers occasionally lead to the removal of wolves. The federal agency pulled four wolves from the wild last year.

This article was published in the Albuquerque Journal.
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Please act today to keep the young Mexican wolf the government is targeting for removal in the wild where he belongs! Talking points and contact information are here.

You can also help by writing a letter to the editor thanking the Albuquerque Journal for the article and supporting Mexican wolf recovery.

Tips and talking points for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.

Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
  • Mexican gray wolves are beautiful, intelligent, native animals. We have a responsibility to them and to future generations to ensure their recovery.
  • At last count, just 83 wolves including 5 breeding pairs survived in the wild.
  • The government should not be targeting critically endangered wolves, who may be very valuable genetically, for permanent removal.
  • Removing a wolf at random may break up a potential new breeding pair and will place him/her and all of the wolves nearby at risk, since capture carries a high risk of accidental death or injury.
  • These removals perpetuate a failed policy of scapegoating wolves who occasionally prey on livestock -- even when the stock-owner is reimbursed.
  • Four wolves were removed by the government last year, four wolves were killed, and more are targeted for removal. This is a big net loss to the wild population
  • If the US Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned about the growth of the population and its genetic health, the answer is more releases of captive wolves, not subjecting more wild wolves to risky trapping operations and permanent captivity.
  • Moving Mexican gray wolves closer to extinction is not the solution to livestock conflicts.
  • Livestock businesses on public lands are reimbursed for losses and can receive government and non-profit assistance for non-lethal proactive measures to avoid depredation.
Make sure you:
  • Thank the paper for publishing the article.
  • Do not repeat any negative messages from the article, such as “cows may have been killed by wolves, but…”  Remember that those reading your letter will not be looking at the article it responds to, so this is an opportunity to get out positive messages about wolf recovery rather than to argue with the original article.
  • Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 words.
  • Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.”
  • Provide your name, address, phone number and address.  The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.
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