By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A female Mexican gray wolf wanted for killing too many cows in southwestern New Mexico was captured Wednesday following an extensive search, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced.
The agency said that federal trappers finally caught the elusive pack leader and mother of pups and was listed and found to be in good condition.
In a statement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional spokesman Tom Buckley said the wolf will be transported to a holding facility for observation then will be handed over to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
Trappers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services had been combing the northwestern portion of the Gila National Forest for any signs of the wolf for weeks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initially issued an order in early August to shoot the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack.
A few days after issuing the lethal order, the agency rescinded it, calling instead for the animal to be trapped and removed from the wild.
The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center offered to take the wolf into captivity. The center is a participating member of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan and currently houses other wolves for the program.
Four cattle deaths linked to the pack happened outside the wolf recovery boundaries within four months, with the most recent one being reported Aug. 1.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has been critical of wolf management, said he was disappointed with the removal. “I’m saddened that this wolf will never see her pups again,” said Robinson. “This family of wolves had been contributing to recovery and she should have been allowed to stay in the wild.”
A subspecies of the gray wolf, the Mexican 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.
Efforts to re-establish the predators in the Southwest have stumbled due to legal battles, illegal shootings and other problems. A survey done at the beginning of the year showed there were at least such 58 wolves in the wild along the New Mexico-Arizona border.
PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR TODAY —IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO SHOW OUR OUTRAGE OVER THIS ACTION!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Start by thanking paper for publishing this article.This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
- Protest the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s removal of this wolf. 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.
- 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.
- Point out that there are many proactive measures available to help livestock coexist with wolves. Killing and removing wolves is not the answer.
- Assert that the way to improve the wild populations’ genetics is to release many new wolves into the wild, so that when the Fox Mountain pups, when they grow up, will be able to find unrelated mates. Explain that the USFWS is using the Fox Mountain alpha wolves’ genetics as an excuse for removing the female, and point out that the reason these pups’ parents are so closely related may be due to the fact that not a single new wolf has been released from the captive-breeding pool since November 2008. The wild population is extremely small and vulnerable to threats such as disease, inbreeding, or natural events. The USFWS should end the freeze on new releases of captive wolves into 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.
This article and similar articles appeared in several newspapers. Submit your letter to:
The Las Cruces Sun-News Submit letters here.
The Fox Mountain Loba resisted capture for months-the best thing you can do for her and all the Mexican wolves out there is show your outrage and help make sure this never happens again. Thank you.
Photo by AZ Game and Fish Department