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Blog: RIP – Huckleberry (M1275, Bluestem Pack)

Black Raven, Red Sneakers, May 18, 2014

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By Paula Nixon

“In April, M1275 was found dead in Arizona.  The incident is under investigation.”  No other details were provided in the Endangered Species Update that arrived in my email inbox late Saturday afternoon.  On April 21st the two-year-old  had been located by radio telemetry, alone but in the Bluestem Pack’s traditional territory with the other pack members (the alpha pair and six pups) nearby.

M1275 was born in the  spring of 2012.  In this video shot in the summer of that same year,  the field team captured the wolf pup, gave him a quick examination, outfitted him with a radio collar and set him free.  A few months later he was named Huckleberry by a kindergartner in Lobos of the Southwest’s first annual pup naming contest.  He continued to travel with the Bluestem Pack after a new litter of pups was born in 2013 and probably helped to feed and care for them after the alpha male (M806) was illegally shot last summer.

Life in the wild is tough for wolves–92 of them died between 1998 (when they were first released) and 2012 (the most recent year for which numbers are available).  Causes of death have included:  vehicle collision, disease, asphyxiation after a snake bite, and starvation, but by far the largest number of those deaths (47 of the 92) were caused by illegal shootings.  It’s too early to know for sure what happened to M1275, but I’ll keep watching for more details and asking, if they aren’t forthcoming in future updates.

Just over forty years ago President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act  which has enabled the recovery and reintroduction into the wild of the Mexican gray wolf.   It seems fitting to remember his words from that day, “Nothing is more priceless and worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed.”

This article was posted on Paula Nixon’s blog, Black Raven, Red Sneakers

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