By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—An endangered Mexican gray wolf pack linked to recent killings of cows in southwestern New Mexico should be captured and moved out of the area, the governor told federal officials.
In a recent letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gov. Susana Martinez wrote that the Fox Mountain Mexican wolf pack in Catron County has created significant concerns and is affecting the psychological well-being of families, and the agency should use a clause in the reintroduction program to remove the endangered wolves.
“I request that the USFWS immediately capture and relocate the entire pack to an area where they will not negatively impact the lives of New Mexico citizens,” Martinez wrote. “The livestock owners who have been impacted need to be made whole as allowed by the program.”
News of the letter came just as federal officials captured an elusive female Mexican gray wolf Wednesday wanted for killing too many cows in the disputed area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said federal trappers finally caught the elusive pack leader and mother of pups in Gila National Forest. The wolf was listed and found to be in good condition.
According to officials, she is scheduled to be handed over to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, which has offered to take the wolf into captivity.
Four cattle deaths linked to the pack happened outside the wolf recovery boundaries within four months, with the most recent reported Aug. 1.
Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, praised the governor for sending the letter and listening to ranchers’ concerns. “We are pleased that the governor chose to stand in solidarity with ranchers and to request that this pack be relocated,” she said.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has been critical of wolf management, said the pack largely hunts elk and rarely attacks livestock. There has not been an escalation of wolves attacking livestock, he said
“This is just an excuse to relocate the wolves into extinction,” he said.
The Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf, was added to the endangered species list in 1976. A captive-breeding program was started and the first batch of wolves was released into the wild in 1998.
Legal battles, illegal shootings and other problems have stalled efforts to re-establish the predators in the Southwest.
A survey done at the beginning of the year showed there were at least 58 wolves in the wild along the New Mexico-Arizona border.
The Fox Mountain family of Mexican gray wolves has already suffered too much. There are two things you can do to help them.
Contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Tell them you see the removal of the Fox Mountain mother wolf as a disaster and any further disruption of the Fox Mountain pack is unacceptable.
Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator: 505-761-4748 or 505-363-2797
External Affairs: 505-248-6911
Main office number: (505) 248-6920
Calls are more effective than emails, but if you absolutely can’t call, you can email Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle at RDTuggle@fws.gov or Benjamin_Tuggle@fws.gov.
Once you’ve called, please write a letter to the editor.
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 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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.
Protest any further disruption of this family of wolves. The alpha female was just captured and placed in permanent captivity. Wolves are social animals who rely on family members in hunting and pup rearing. By removing this wolf, the USFWS is depriving four pups born this summer of their mother, harming this family of wolves, and breaking apart one of only a few breeding pairs in the wild. The Fox Mountain wolves should be left alone.
Point out that there are many proactive measures available to help livestock coexist with wolves and they are working. No livestock have been lost near the Fox Mountain Pack since July and no livestock were lost prior to July while range riders were present. Removing or killing critically endangered wolves is the wrong way to address livestock issues.
Remind readers that, at last count just 58 wolves, including six breeding pairs, survived in the wild. This is no time to bring back the policy of scapegoating wolves who occasionally prey on livestock. Instead of removing wolves, more should be released in the wild. Convey how important new releases of wolves into the wild are to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health, especially now.
Tell readers why you support wolves and stress that the majority of New Mexico and Arizona voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Polling showed 69% support in New Mexico and 77% support in Arizona.
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.
Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 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.
Las Cruces Sun-News Submit letters here.
Alamogordo News Submit letters here.
San Francisco Chronicle Submit letters here.
Farmington Daily Times Submit letters here.
Thank you for all you do to help endangered Mexican wolves and this family!
Photo of Middle Fork pack pups courtesy of the Interagency Field Team