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Monthly Status Report: January 1-31, 2017 - From the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

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Endangered Species Updates
February 23, 2017


Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
January 1-31, 2017


The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project)
activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and New Mexico.  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at
www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf.

Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically.

This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose.  The Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).
To view semi-monthly wolf telemetry flight location information please visit www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/RWL.cfm.
Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to:(928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.


Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update

On January 18, 2017, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the Preliminary Injunction on releases of Mexican wolves in New Mexico. The Court has not yet ruled.

The Mexican Wolf Executive Committee met January 25, 2017, at the Arizona Game and Fish Department office in Phoenix, Arizona

Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history.  Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older.  Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups.  The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Our note:  You will notice that some of the wolves also have names associated with their identification numbers.  For the last four years we had a Pup Naming Contest for Kids to name the pups born in Spring.  The names that you see are the winning names that we have assigned to the pups.  Follow these links for all the entries and results from the 2012 contest2013 contest2014 contest, and 2015 contest.


Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory.  In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.


CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

The IFT completed the annual year-end population survey which started in November 2016 and concluded with helicopter count and capture operations conducted from January 26, 2017 through February 5, 2017. The IFT documented a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016. In 2015, the minimum count was 97 wild wolves. At the end of the annual count and capture operation, there were 68 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring. Wolves with functioning radio collars during the month of January are listed by studbook number in the pack updates below.

Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population is experiencing the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year. This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups.

January pack updates include the annual helicopter count and capture operation which occurred from January 26, through February 5, 2017.


IN ARIZONA:

Bear Wallow Pack (collared Poco-AM1338, Bailey-AF1335 and fp1548)
In January, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF). During the annual count and capture operation, two uncollared wolves were documented traveling with AM1338 and AF1335. AF1335 was captured, re-collared, and released back into its territory.

Bluestem Pack (collared AF1042, Fuerza-M1382, F1443, Faith-F1488, fp1562, fp1563, mp1568, and mp1573)
In January, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. Some wolves from the Bluestem Pack displayed dispersal behavior during the month. F1443 continued to travel with m1447, of the Diamond Pack, in New Mexico near the Arizona border. F1488 was documented traveling with another wolf near Alpine. M1382 was documented traveling with AF1339 of the Panther Creek Pack. During the annual count and capture operation, F1488 and two Bluestem pups (mp1568 and mp1573) were captured, collared, and released back into their territory.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, AM1342, Blaze-mp1471, and mp1474)
In January, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. During the annual count and capture operation, a female Elk Horn pup was captured, collared, and released back into its territory. The IFT has yet to receive results from genetic analysis of a blood sample taken from the female Elk Horn pup that will reveal if the pup was wild born or a cross fostered animal from captivity.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
In January, the Hawks Nest Pack consisted of one collared wolf, AM1038. AM1038 made wide dispersal movements within the north central portion of the ASNF throughout the month and was located in New Mexico in the GNF toward the end of the month. During the annual count and capture operation, AM1038 was documented traveling alone.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Kiko-m1441, fp1549, fp1550 and f1567)
January, the Hoodoo Pack remained in the north central portion of the ASNF. During the annual count and capture operation, AF1333 was captured, re-collared, and released back into its territory. Subadult m1441 was documented traveling separately from the Hoodoo Pack in January. During the annual count and capture operation an uncollared female subadult wolf (f1567) traveling with m1441 was captured, collared, and released back into its territory.

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291)
In January, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF.

Panther Creek Pack (Esperanza-AF1339, AM1394, mp1483, fp1484, and mp1486)
In January, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF. During the annual count and capture operation, Bluestem M1382 was documented traveling with AF1339; AM1394 was not located during the month of January. AF1339 and a male pup were captured, collared, and released back into their territory. The IFT has yet to receive results from genetic analysis of a blood sample taken from the male Panther Creek pup that will reveal if the pup was wild born or a cross fostered animal from captivity.


ON THE FAIR:

Diamond Pack (collared Mago-m1447, f1557, mp1559, fp1560, fp1570, mp1571 and mp1572)
In January, the Diamond Pack was located in the northern portion of the ASNF and on state lands north of the ASNF. Subadult m1447 continued to be documented traveling with F1443, of the Bluestem Pack, in New Mexico near the Arizona border. During the annual count and capture operation, AM1249 and mp1558 were captured and removed to captivity in response to repeated and confirmed cattle depredations. Three pups (fp1570, mp1571 and mp1572) were captured, collared, and released back into their territory.

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and Ma'iitosoh-AF1283)
In January, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR.

Baldy Pack (collared Essential-M1347 and Libre-f1445)
The Baldy Pack was not located during the month of January.


IN NEW MEXICO:

Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM99)
During January, the IFT located this pack within and outside of its traditional territory in the west central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, Acalia-AF1278, mp1555, and mp1556)
During January, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF. During the annual count and capture operation, all members of the Iron Creek Pack were observed from helicopter traveling together along the northern edge of the Gila Wilderness.

Lava Pack (collared Gunnolf-M1285 and F1405)
During January, F1405 (formerly of the Buckalou Pack) was located within the Lava Pack’s traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF;F1405 is now considered a member of the Lava Pack. During the annual count and capture operation, AM1285 was captured, recollared, and released into the Lava Pack territory.

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, AF1346 and mp1561)
During January, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness. During the annual count and capture operation, AF1346 was captured, collared, and released into the Leopold pack territory.

Luna Pack (collared AM1158, AF1487 and mp1554)
During January, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. An independent trapper captured AF1158 in a coyote trap; the IFT responded immediately and recollared AM1158 (collar had failed in 2015) and released the animal on site into its territory. During the annual count and capture operation, AF1487 was captured, recollared, and released back into the Luna pack territory.

Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and Wuna-F1439)
During January, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in north western portions of the GNF in New Mexico.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, Monty-M1386, Tsuki-m1455, Artemis-f1456, Selene-f1553, fp1565 and mp1569)
During January, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. AF1251 continues to be located with M1398 and other members of the Prieto Pack. During the annual count and capture operation, AF1251, M1398, fp1565, and an uncollared pup were observed traveling together. Throughout January, including visual observation from the helicopter, f1553 was documented traveling with AM1285 of the SBP Pack. M1386, m1455, f1456, and M1552 continued to display dispersal behavior within the GNF. M1552 was documented making a large distance dispersal movement north of I-40 in early January before quickly returning to Mexican wolf occupied range within the GNF. M1455 was observed traveling alone. AF1251, f1456, and an uncollared pup (mp1569) were captured, collared and released during the annual count and capture operation.

San Mateo Pack (collared AM1345, Survivor-AF1399 and fp1551)
During January, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF. All members of the San Mateo Pack were observed from the helicopter traveling together during the annual population survey.

SBP Pack (collared Krypto-AM1284)
During January, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. During the annual count and capture operation, AM1284 was observed traveling with f1553 of the Prieto Pack.

Willow Springs Pack (collared Vida-F1397)
January, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. During the annual count and capture operation, F1397 was documented traveling alone.


Single AM1155
During January, AM1155 was documented traveling within New Mexico. During the annual count and capture operation, AM1155 was documented traveling alone

Single Adero-M1398
During January, M1398 was documented traveling with AF1251 of the Prieto Pack in the west central portion of the GNF.

Single collared Bravery-M1354
During January, M1354 was documented traveling in southern portions of the GNF and northern Gila Wilderness. M1354 was observed traveling alone during the annual count and capture operation and later observed traveling with a sibling wolf (f1444).

Single collared Stella-f1444
During January, f1444 was documented traveling mostly within west central portions of the Gila National Forest (GNF). Although f1444 continued to utilize portions of its natal pack’s territory, it has not been located with other members of its pack and is now considered a single wolf. During the annual count and capture operations, f1444 was observed traveling with a sibling wolf (M1354).


MORTALITIES

During January, F1437 was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.


INCIDENTS

During the month of January, there were five confirmed wolf kills and one nuisance report.

On January 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf died from unknown causes.

On January 25, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was killed by coyotes.

On January 26, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was killed by coyotes.

On January 26, Wildlife Services investigated two dead calves in Catron County, New Mexico. The investigation determined both calves were confirmed wolf kills.

On January 27, the IFT received a report of a collared wolf observed traveling into Alpine Heights in Arizona on the night of January 26. The IFT learned a homeowner in Alpine Heights had an animal get into an outside trash container that same night. The IFT responded on January 27 and found tracks from a domestic dog in the snow around the trash container.

On January 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On January 30, Wildlife Services investigated two dead calves in Apache County, Arizona. The investigations determined both of the calves were confirmed wolf kills.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

January 10, the Fish and Wildlife Service attended the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council meeting to listen to concerns regarding funding and management of Mexican wolves on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

On January 25, the Fish and Wildlife Service attended the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council meeting to discuss funding and management of Mexican wolves on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

On January 26, the Fish and Wildlife Service presented in Albuquerque to members of Amigos, the Southwest Regional Forest Service Retirees club.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

In January, Genevieve Fuller and Craig Zurek were hired as wolf biologists on the Arizona Game and Fish Department contingent of the IFT. Genevieve will be based out of the Pinetop wolf office and will assume responsibility for the data collection and on-the-ground management of wolf packs in the northern region of occupied wolf range in Arizona. Craig will be based out of the Alpine wolf office and will assume responsibility for the data collection and on-the-ground management of wolf packs in the southern region of occupied wolf range in Arizona.


REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.