In the News: Pregnant Mexican wolf freed with mate in Arizona
A pregnant Mexican wolf has been released into the wild with her mate in an effort to grow the population, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.
The pair were taken to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on Wednesday and will be held in an enclosure until they "self-release" by chewing through the fencing, a statement said. Supplemental food will be provided as they get used to hunting their own prey.
The Rim Pack female, known as F1305, was captured in the wild in January, after her mate disappeared, to breed with a more genetically diverse male born in captivity at the California Wolf Center in 2008, known as M1130.
Biologists observed the pair breeding and believe the female is pregnant. The pair were released near the female's old territory.
Officials hope the wolves will make the area their home, said Mike Rabe, non-game wildlife branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. A number of factors should help, including releasing the pair into the enclosure in territory the female should recognize.
"If you just put them in a box and take them off a pickup truck and open the door ... they're going to run like heck," Rabe said. "They're disoriented and their first impulse is to just get away from you."
By leaving them in a pen that they eventually can chew out of, the wolves will calm down and be more likely to stay together and explore their surroundings, he said.
The wolf population is poised to make a comeback, Rabe said. The population recently reached a milestone of more than 100 in the southwest.
"I'm very optimistic about the future," he said.
The pair were held at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico until they were ready for release.
"Improving the genetics of the wild Mexican wolf population continues to be our priority," said Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, in a written statement. "Together this pair will improve the genetic profile of the current Mexican wolf population, ensuring long-term viability. The female, F1305, has experience living in the wild increasing the success rate for the pair's survival."
A 2014 survey found a minimum of 109 Mexican wolves in the wild, up from 83 the previous year.
Other agencies participating in the effort include the White Mountain Apache Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, several Arizona counties and the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization.
This article was published in the Arizona Republic.
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.
Arizona Daily Sun - Submit your letter here.
San Francisco Chronicle – Submit your letter here.
Capital Press - Submit your letter here.