PHOENIX — The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project’s interagency field team successfully released a radio collared 4-year-old male Mexican wolf, designated M1133, last week in the Apache National Forest, and preliminary tracking data shows the wolf remains well within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.
M1133 was brought by snowmobile to the release site by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and hard released (released directly from the transport crate upon arrival rather than being placed in a temporary holding pen in that area for a period of time to acclimate). M1133’s release was adjacent to the Bluestem pack’s territory in hopes that it will replace the pack’s breeding (alpha) male that was illegally killed in 2012. Surveys were conducted prior to the release to ensure that the Bluestem pack alpha female had not paired with another male wolf. The release was timed to coincide with normal early-season breeding activities. The Bluestem pack currently consists of four collared wolves, including the alpha female and three pups born in 2012. At least three uncollared wolves have been documented with the pack, likely a yearling and two additional pups from the 2012 litter.
M1133 was released to develop a more genetically robust wild Mexican wolf population. His offspring will be genetically different than existing wild wolves in the larger Mexican wolf population. This is significant for the genetic health of that population.
M1133 was born in captivity in April 2008 and was transferred to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in December 2008 along with his parents and littermate. He was prepared for the release and transported from Sevilleta to Arizona.
The release of M1133 is considered an initial release rather than a translocation because the animal was born and raised in captivity. A translocation, such as the two conducted in January 2011, is when a wolf that was born in the wild, but brought into captivity for some reason, is then released back into the wild. The field team closely manages all initially-released wolves to reduce the potential of nuisance-related behaviors and livestock depredations once they are in the wild. Since M1133 is wearing a radio collar, biologists will monitor the animal closely to reduce conflict with livestock or human activity in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
All initial wolf releases occur in Arizona in the primary recovery zone of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in compliance with the existing federal 10(j) rule covering the reintroduction project. The last initial release of wolves occurred in 2008.
This article was published in The White Mountain Independent’s Online Edition.
You can help critically endangered Mexican wolves by submitting 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 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start by thanking the paper for publishing the article. This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service should manage Mexican gray wolves to ensure their recovery and not risk extinction again. Even though Mexican gray wolves were released to their native lands in Arizona and New Mexico almost 15 years ago, the wild population continues to struggle, not because of any lack on the part of the wolves, but because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to make the changes needed for these wolves to succeed.
The last population count found only 58 Mexican gray wolves in the wild; the US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to implement many more releases and an aggressive genetic rescue program that frees many wolves into the wild. The wild population of Mexican wolves is at tremendous risk due to its small size and genetics and in its proposal for 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to only put out one or two more wolves within or next to existing wolves’ territories, and says the new wolves will be killed or removed if they become a “nuisance.”
There is plenty of room for many more wolves to be released. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area comprises 4.4 million acres (twice the size of Yellowstone National Park), which support an extraordinary array of wildlife and vegetation types. The Fish and Wildlife Service is using the mere presence of livestock as a justification not to release wolves into a wider range of the available area in Arizona, and has refused to change the rule that arbitrarily excludes new wolves from being released directly into New Mexico.
The Fish and Wildlife Service should increase protections for these wolves, and expedite the Mexican gray wolf recovery planning process. A draft recovery plan to replace the outdated 1982 plan has been developed but politics has stalled the recovery planning process. The draft recovery plan should be put out for public comment.
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.Elected officials like Senator Tom Udall should use their influence to get the Fish and Wildlife Service to enact the changes needed to help these wolves.
Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you.
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.
Mexican gray wolves are unique animals. They are the rarest, most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America and the most endangered wolf in the world.
Wolves are a benefit to the West and are essential to restoring the balance of nature.
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