ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials confirmed Wednesday that an animal killed by a federal employee in southwestern New Mexico in January was a Mexican gray wolf.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said genetic tests confirmed it was a small, uncollared female. More tests are under way to determine which pack the wolf was associated with.
In January, an employee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services shot what officials described at the time as a “canine.” The employee reported the shooting because the animal looked like a Mexican wolf after closer inspection.
The wolf was shot from about 250 yards away, officials said.
“Our specialist, at the time, was upset and that’s why he reported it. Still, we’re disappointed that it occurred,” said Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman at Wildlife Services headquarters.
The Mexican gray wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. The effort to reintroduce the wolves in New Mexico and Arizona has stumbled due to legal battles, illegal shootings and other problems.
Federal officials have been tightlipped about the January shooting. They have not said what prompted the employee to shoot but implied that he may have thought it was a coyote. The employee was in the Mangas area investigating cattle deaths when the shooting occurred.
Bannerman said the employee remains on the job and the agency is cooperating with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The case has been turned over to the U.S. attorney’s office for review.
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San Francisco Chronicle
Stand up against the illegal killing of endangered wolves!
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.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly-your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to email@example.com.
- Start by thanking paper for publishing this article. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
- Call on the federal government for a complete investigation and disclosure regarding the Wildlife Services employee’s involvement in the illegal killing of a Mexican gray wolf. Mexican wolves are important animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Anyone guilty of killing a Mexican wolf should be fully prosecuted and suffer the maximum criminal and civil penalties for their crime. “Mistaken identity” is no excuse, especially for a federal Wildlife Services employee. And because the FWS did not report this wolf’s death in the monthly report for January, the perception of an attempt to hide this crime should be addressed with full disclosure and investigation.
- Remind readers that, at last count, just 75 Mexican gray wolves, including three breeding pairs, survived in the wild. These native wolves are critically endangered. With so few in the wild, every wolf is important. Killing or harming them is illegal and immoral.
- Convey how important it is for people to contact their elected officials in congress now for an investigation of the Wildlife Services agency. In November, two U.S. congressmen, Reps. John Campbell, an Irvine Republican, and Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat,called again for a probe of Wildlife Services, citing photos of animal abuse posted on the Internet by an agency employee. The Wildlife Services program within U.S.D.A. kills a hundred thousand coyotes, wolves and other native carnivores annually at a tremendous cost to taxpayers. Other Wildlife Services employees have killed golden eagles, endangered wolverines, and many other non-target animals, including pets. Now another Wildlife Services employee is being investigated in connection with the killing of this endangered Mexican wolf. We should all urge our members of Congress to call for an investigation and changes to the way Wildlife Services operates.
- Tell readers why you support wolves and stress that the majority of Arizona and New Mexico residents support wolves and want them better protected. Polling done by Research and Polling, Inc., found 77 percent of Arizona respondents and 69 percent of New Mexico respondents support the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves. The polls also showed the overwhelming majority supports spending taxpayer dollars on preventing livestock conflicts rather than killing or removing wolves.
- Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.
- Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams — just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters. Science has repeatedly demonstrated that wolves are keystone carnivores who help to keep wildlife like elk and deer healthy and bring balance to the lands they inhabit.
- Keep your letter brief, between 150-200 words.
- Provide your name, address, occupation, and phone number; your full address, occupation, and phone number will not be published, but they are required in order to have your letter published.