Two Mexican gray wolves were released April 22 into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona by staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team conducted a “soft release” of wolves Male 1130 and Female 1305, meaning the wolves will be confined in an enclosure until the animals chew through the fencing and self-release. The release is part of a federal wolf reintroduction project in New Mexico and Arizona that many Lincoln County ranchers oppose.
The female is the Rim Pack breeding female that was taken into captivity in January to be paired with M1130, a more genetically-diverse male. M1130 was whelped at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and eventually moved to the Service’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico.
The wolf pair was observed breeding and biologists believe the female is pregnant. The pair was released near the Rim Pack’s old territory in Arizona on the Alpine Ranger District.
“The release of this genetically-diverse pair of Mexican wolves will help us build on our recent success of reaching a population milestone of more than 100 wolves in the American Southwest,” Mike Rabe, nongame wildlife branch chief for Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. “The methods used for their release help ensure that these wolves acclimate and behave as wild wolves.”
The IFT will provide supplemental food while the wolves learn to catch and kill native prey, such as deer and elk, on their own. The supplemental feeding will assist in anchoring the wolves to the area, officials said.
“Improving the genetics of the wild Mexican wolf population continues to be our priority,” Benjamin Tuggle, Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest regional director, said. “Together this pair will improve the genetic profile of the current Mexican wolf population, ensuring long-term viability. The female, F1505, has experience living in the wild increasing the success rate for the pair’s survival.”
The 2014 Mexican wolf population survey results announced in February showed a minimum of 109 in the wild, up from 83 the previous year.
The Reintroduction Project partners are the Service, AZGFD, White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — Wildlife Services, several participating counties in Arizona and the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization.
The deadline for Arizona and New Mexico livestock producers to submit applications to receive “payments for wolf presence” in 2014 under the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Plan is June 1, according to information from the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council.
Applications are available on the Coexistence Council website: http://www.coexistencecouncil.org/.
The Coexistence Plan, announced in March 2014, is comprised of three core strategies: payments for wolf presence, funding for conflict avoidance measures, and funding for depredation compensation. The June 1 application deadline relates specifically to the “payments for wolf presence” portion of the Coexistence Plan.
The intent of the Coexistence Plan is to recognize that real economic consequences occur to livestock producers coexisting with wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.
This article was published in the Ruidoso News and the Albuquerque Journal.
The release of these wolves is an important first step but is inadequate to meet the need for genetic rescue of the Mexican wolf population in the wild. Your letter to the editor is needed to influence the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release more than two new wolves from the captive breeding population in 2015.
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 and talking points for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
- At last official count, only 109 Mexican gray wolves were found in the wild, making them one of the most endangered wolves in the world.
- The wild population of Mexican wolves is at tremendous risk due to its small size and genetics. The release of this pair is a great first step towards improving the wild population’s genetic health, but it’s not enough. Many more wolves should be released this year from the hundreds in captive breeding programs.
- For over 3 decades, captive breeding programs in the U.S. and Mexico have worked to maximize genetic diversity so that captive wolves could be released to increase the wild population’s genetic health. But USFWS has released very few of these wolves. Only two “new” releases are proposed in the agency’s plan for 2015, even though new rules have greatly expanded the area in which wolves can be released from captivity into the wild. This is inadequate to recover the lobo.
- Wolves are a benefit to the West and are essential to restoring the balance of nature.
- Scientists 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.
- Mexican gray wolves are unique native animals. They are the rarest, most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America and the most endangered wolf in the world.
- Wolves generate economic benefits – a University of Montana study found that visitors who come to see wolves in Yellowstone contribute roughly $35.5 million annually to the regional economy.
- The livestock industry has a responsibility to share public lands with wolves and other wildlife. Wolves are responsible for less than 1% of livestock losses and there are many tried and true methods to avoid conflicts between livestock and wolves.
Make sure you:
- Thank the paper for publishing the article.
- 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, between 150-300 words.
- Include something about who you are and why you care: E.g. “I am a mother, outdoors person, teacher, business owner, scientific, religious, etc.”
- Provide your name, address, phone number and address. The paper won’t publish these, but they want to know you are who you say you are.