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US investigates wolf killings

2 are dead, third missing from packs in Ariz., NM

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Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star


COURTESY MEXICAN WOLF INTERAGENCY FIELD TEAM. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the 12-year-old Mexican wolf-recovery program is in danger of failing, in part because of wolf shootings. This Arizona wolf is part of the Blue Range recovery project.


Federal law enforcement officials are investigating what they call the suspicious deaths of two endangered Mexican gray wolf alpha males in the past month - one in Eastern Arizona, the other in southern New Mexico.

The Arizona wolf from the Hawks Nest Pack was found shot to death June 18. The wolf from the San Mateo Pack in New Mexico was found dead June 24, authorities said.

The Hawks Nest Pack is known to use the area east of Big Lake in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest as a spring and summer breeding territory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said. That pack's wolf was discovered in an area that is regularly used for public travel in the forest.

Killing a Mexican gray wolf is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is awaiting necropsy results to determine if the New Mexico wolf was also shot, said Charna Lefton, an agency spokeswoman.

In addition, a third alpha male wolf has been missing since mid-April, officials said. It belonged to the Paradise Pack, which has roamed the Fort Apache Reservation of Eastern Arizona.

Although that wolf was radio-collared, as of the end of June authorities had not been able to find him and now classify his status as "fate unknown," said Bruce Sitko, information and education manager in the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Pinetop office.

The two wolf deaths come less than a month after a Fish and Wildlife Service report said the 12-year-old Mexican wolf-recovery program was in danger of failing, in part because of a long history of wolf shootings. So far, 32 wolves are known to have been shot during the life of the program, making shooting the top cause of wolf mortality. The service said at least two wolves were shot to death in 2009; the shootings remain under U.S. investigation. ...

Click Here to read the full story, published on July 13, 2010 in the Arizona Daily Star, and post a comment.

Please submit a letter to the editor of the Daily Star urging immediate action to stop the killings and release the Engineer Springs family of captive wolves into the wild: letters@azstarnet.com.

For more actions you can take to help pull Mexican wolves back from the brink of extinction, Click Here.


REWARDS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a reward of up to $10,000, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers a reward of up to $1,000, for information leading to the apprehension of whoever is responsible for the death of the Arizona wolf found shot to death June 18.

Defenders of Wildlife is offering up to $10,000 more for similar information.

Together, federal and state agencies, the Phoenix Zoo and a host of conservation groups including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sky Island Alliance and the Animal Defense League of Arizona have offered a total of $52,000 for information leading to the apprehension of someone responsible for shooting a Mexican gray wolf.

Note: mexicanwolves.org is pleased to announce that the reward described above has increased in the last week; WildEarth Guardians has pledged an additional $2,000 and White Mountain Conservation League has pledged $700, bringing the total reward to $54,700!

Click Here to print reward posters for distribution. These look great and really grab people’s attention when printed on bright “day-glo” colored paper.