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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project News

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

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Endangered Species Updates
April 20, 2017


Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
March 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 bit.do/mexicanwolf or www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/RWL.cfm.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to:  the Alpine wolf office (928) 339-4329, Pinetop wolf office (928-532-2391) 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

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted the 2017 Mexican Wolf Initial Release and Translocation Plan (Plan) on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Website and requested comments for 20 days. The USFWS provided all comments received in applications to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for importation and release permits consistent with the Plan.

The USFWS hosted the Canid and Hyaneid Taxon Advisory Group meeting in Albuquerque March 27 and 28, 2017. This meeting was part of the larger Association of Zoos and Aquarium's mid-year meeting hosted by the Albuquerque Biological Park.

The Division of Genomic Resources (DGR) of the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico serves as the repository for Mexican wolf specimens including carcasses, pelts, and blood. On March 30, 2017, DGR celebrated migrating from maintaining specimens in -80oC freezers to new, more secure cryogenic nitrogen-vapor (-190oC).

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 five years we had a Pup Naming Contest for Kids to name the pups born in the 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 contest2015 contest and 2016 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 in late January through early February 2017. The IFT documented a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016. At the end of March, there were 61 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring. Wolves with functioning radio collars are listed by studbook number in the pack updates below.

Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population experiences 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.

IN ARIZONA:

Bear Wallow Pack (collared Poco-AM1338, Bailey-AF1335 and Zyanya-fp1548)
In March, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).

Bluestem Pack (Fuerza-M1382, Faith-F1488, Atira-fp1562, Moonlight-fp1563, Chico-mp1573, and Windy-mp1574)
In March, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. F1488 continued to travel separate from the Bluestem Pack with another wolf near Alpine. During March, M1382 continued to be documented traveling with AF1339 of the Panther Creek Pack. Genetic analysis from the male pup initially thought to be Panther Creek mp148X revealed that it was a Bluestem pup and has been assigned the studbook number mp1574.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, AM1342, Blaze-mp1471, River-mp1474, and Dajanae-fp1473)
In March, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. The female pup assigned the temporary studbook number, fp147X, was identified as fp1473 through genetic analysis. This confirmed that the wolf was a wild born of the Elk Horn Pack and not a cross-fostered pup from 2016.

Frieborn Pack (collared F1443 and Mago-m1447)
In March, F1443 and m1447 received pack status and were named the Frieborn Pack. They have been holding a territory in the east central portion of the ASNF in Arizona and into New Mexico.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
The Hawks Nest Pack consists of one collared wolf, AM1038.  AM1038 previously made wide dispersal movements within the north central portion of the ASNF, but during March was consistently located in the northern portion of the ASNF in the territory of the Diamond Pack. By the end of March, AM1038 was documented traveling primarily with f1557 of the Diamond Pack.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Kiko-m1441, Willow-fp1549, Moon Beam-fp1550 and Lupin-f1567)
In March, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. Sub-adult wolves m1441 and f1567 continued to travel together and apart from the Hoodoo Pack. The IFT concluded the prey carcass investigations that began in February looking at the kill rates of both the Hoodoo Pack and the new pair: m1441 and f1567. In March, fp1549 was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291)
In March, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and east central portion of the ASNF.

Panther Creek Pack (Esperanza-AF1339, Rakesh-mp1483, Centinela-fp1484, and Da-Kari-mp1486)
In March, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF. Bluestem M1382 continued to be located traveling with AF1339. Pups mp1483, fp1484, and mp1486 have been traveling separately from the rest of the pack. Male pup 1486 has been documented traveling in the Gila National Forest (GNF) in New Mexico. Male pup 1483 was documented traveling between Arizona and New Mexico. The male pup assigned the temporary studbook number, mp148X, was identified through genetic analysis as a Bluestem animal, and has been given a new studbook number of mp1574.


ON THE FAIR:

Diamond Pack (collared Phoenix-f1557, Aleu-mp1559, Spirit-fp1560, Ulv-fp1570, Rio Espiritu-mp1571 and Argentum-mp1572)
In March, the Diamond Pack was located in the northern portion of the ASNF and on state lands north of the ASNF. Near the beginning of the month, mp1572 was located lame and removed for veterinary care. Male pup 1572 has tested negative for diseases and has been transferred to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico where it continues to receive rehabilitative care. Near the end of March, AM1038 of the Hawks Nest Pack and f1557 were documented traveling together and apart from the Diamond Pack.

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and Ma'iitosoh-AF1283)
In March, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory on the FAIR.

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


IN NEW MEXICO:

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, Acalia-AF1278, Zeus-mp1555, and Fortitudo-mp1556)
During March, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).

Lava Pack (collared Gunnolf-AM1285 and F1405)
During March, the Lava Pack was located within their traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF.

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, Cancion-AF1346 and Akela-mp1561)
During March, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Luna Pack (collared AM1158 and AF1487)
During March, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the Gila National Forest. The IFT set up a diversionary food cache to reduce potential for livestock depredations.

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

New Pair (collared Stella-F1444 and Monty-M1386)
During March, F1444 and M1386 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF.

New Pair (collared Artemis-F1456 and Bravery-M1354)
During March, F1456 and M1354 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, Adero-M1398, and Peaceful-fp1565)
During March, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  M1386, m1455, f1456, M1552, and mp1569 have all displayed dispersal behavior for 3 months and are now considered single wolves or part of a “new pair”.

San Mateo Pack (collared Survivor-AF1399)
During March, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared Krypto-AM1284 and Selene-f1553)
During March, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

Willow Springs Pack (collared Vida-F1397)
During March, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

Single collared AM1155
During March, AM1155 was documented traveling within New Mexico.

Single collared Tsuki-m1455
During March, m1455 traveled throughout east-central portions of the GNF and southern portions of the Cibola National Forest (CNF).

Single collared M1552
During March, M1552 traveled throughout northeastern portions of the GNF and central portions of the CNF.

Single collared Paz-mp1569
During March, mp1569 traveled throughout northern and central portions of the CNF and other areas west of I-25.


MORTALITIES

During March, Willow-fp1549 of the Hoodoo Pack was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.

During March, Chico-mp1573 of the Bluestem Pack was captured by the IFT for medical evaluation and attention. It died overnight under veterinary care. Disease testing confirmed mp1573 tested positive for canine distemper.


INCIDENTS

During the month of March, there were six confirmed wolf depredations on livestock and no nuisance reports.

On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was killed by coyotes.

On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the cow had died from natural causes.

On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf had been killed by dogs.

On March 25, Wildlife Services investigated seven dead cows in Cochise County, AZ. The investigations determined one cow was a confirmed wolf kill, four cows died from natural causes and one cow died from an unknown cause. One of the seven dead cows was unable to be investigated due to its deteriorated condition.

On March 26, female pup 1530, originating from an ongoing reintroduction effort in Mexico, was captured on private ranch land in southeastern Arizona by the IFT and relocated to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico, where it is in good health. Management agencies in the United States and Mexico will determine the most appropriate long-term management action for this wolf.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Cochise County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow died from unknown cause.

On March 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

On March 14, the USFWS met with the Santa Clara Pueblo to discuss the status of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and development of the revised draft recovery plan.

On March 29, the USFWS provided a presentation on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program to the Inter-tribal, Fish and Wildlife Service Coordination meeting at Ak-Chin.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

There are no project personnel updates for the month of March.


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.