ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been killed by federal employees after a Native American tribe requested the animal be removed from the wild in the wake of a string of cattle deaths near the Arizona-New Mexico border.
The death of the female wolf marks the first time in a decade that efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to curb livestock attacks by the predators has had lethal consequences for one of the predators.
The decision to remove the member of the Diamond Pack was first made in June after three calves were killed over several days, sparking concern among wildlife managers about what they described as an unacceptable pattern of predation.
An investigation determined the female wolf was likely the culprit based on GPS and radio telemetry tracking.
Another calf was killed in July, prompting the White Mountain Apache Tribe to call for the removal. That was followed by one confirmed kill and another probable kill by members of the pack on national forest land adjacent to the reservation.
Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle issued another order in August calling for the wolf’s removal by the most expeditious means possible.
“I am concerned with the numerous depredations in this area over the past year and the toll these depredations have caused the area’s livestock producers,” Tuggle wrote.
Environmentalists decried the move, saying they are concerned about the possibility of managers reverting to a rigid three-strikes rule that called for wolves to be removed from the wild or killed if they preyed on livestock. Following years of legal wrangling, federal officials revised that policy in 2015 to allow for more options when dealing with nuisance wolves.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity argued that killing wolves does nothing in the long run to reduce livestock losses.
“The recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves has taken an unnecessary step backward,” he said.
Fish and Wildlife officials said current rules allow for the control of problem wolves and that the agency will continue to manage wolves in Arizona and New Mexico under those provisions. They also said they will continue to work with ranchers to limit conflicts.
The wolf recovery team earlier this year set up a diversionary cache of food for the Diamond Pack, which roams parts of tribal land and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Two other pack members were also removed and placed in captivity at the beginning of the year due to predation concerns.
There are now more Mexican gray wolves roaming the American Southwest than at any time since the federal government began trying to reintroduce the animals nearly two decades ago. The most recent annual survey shows at least 113 wolves spread between southwestern New Mexico and southeast Arizona.
Efforts to return the predators to the region have been hampered over the years by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been criticized for its management of the wolves by ranchers, who say the animals are a threat to their livelihoods, and environmentalists who want more captive-bred wolves to be released.
This article was published in the Arizona Daily Sun
Call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tell them to stop killing endangered wolves!
Southwest Region Office: 505-248-6911
Show your support for Mexican wolves with a Letter to the Editor today!
The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by decision-makers. Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience. Don’t try to include all the talking points in your letter.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
“¢ Wolves learn to eat livestock when their carcasses are left on the landscape by ranchers. Wolf reintroduction programs in other areas, including Yellowstone, required ranchers to remove the carcasses of livestock so as to not tempt wolves. Now the wild wolf F1577, or “Phoenix” as kids named her, has been killed because a cow who ate twine and died from it was left nearby.
“¢ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not killed a wolf blamed with depredations for ten years. Why slide backwards now, when Mexican gray wolves are still critically endangered?
“¢ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not be killing endangered species like the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf. Their job is to recover the species, not assist their demise.
“¢ Every removal of a wolf from the wild negatively impacts the ability of the species to recover. Only 113 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild at last official count, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world.
“¢ It has now been 40 years since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first listed the Mexican gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act, yet the species is still struggling to remain viable.
Make sure you:
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“¢ Submit your letter as soon as possible. The chance of your letter being published declines after a day or two since the article was published
“¢ Do not repeat any negative messages from the article, such as “so and so said that wolves kill too many cows, 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, under 250 words
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