By Susan Montoya Bryan / The Associated Press
A female Mexican gray wolf wanted for killing too many cows in southwestern New Mexico is giving trappers the slip.
More than a month after the order to remove the pack leader and mother of pups sparked a public outcry, she remains on the loose.
“She’s one elusive girl,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional spokesman Tom Buckley said Friday. “We’re still trying.”
Trappers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services have been combing the northwestern portion of the Gila National Forest for any signs of the wolf. They have also been checking their traps every day, but still nothing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initially issued an order in early August to shoot the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack.
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. There were also two other cases last summer.
A few days after issuing the lethal order, the agency rescinded it, calling instead for the animal to be trapped and removed from the wild.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.
“They should leave the loba in the wild with her lifelong mate to raise her pups. Putting her into captivity does no one any good,” said Wendy Keefover, carnivore protection director with WildEarth Guardians, using the Spanish word for female wolf.
Federal wildlife managers have said the Fox Mountain pack is important to achieving population goals. However, because the alpha female and male are cousins, the female isn’t considered as genetically valuable as other wolves that have been allowed to stay in the wild despite livestock problems.
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 because of 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.
Read the full article in the Albuquerque Journal here.
This article was also published in the Las Cruces Sun and in the Alamogordo Daily News on September 7, 2012
Please write a letter to the editor, thanking the paper for this article and expressing your support for Mexican gray 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 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.
Submit letters to the editor of Albuquerque Journal here.
Submit letters to the editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News here.
Submit letters to the editor of the Alamogordo Daily News here.
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.
Inform readers that wolves are social animals who rely on family members in hunting and pup rearing. Trapping or darting this wolf, and removing her forever, would disrupt the pack.
Remind them 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.
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.
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. 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.
Let people know that 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.
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.
As long as the Fox Mountain alpha female evades capture, there is hope that she will remain free. CLICK HERE to make calls urging decision-makers to keep the Fox Mountain alpha female in the wild with her family and to release more wolves.
CLICK HERE to join our email list to stay informed and get more involved with efforts to recover Mexican wolves from the brink of extinction.
Thank you again for all you do for the Mexican wolves and this wolf family!