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Monthly Status Report: September 1-30, 2017- From the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

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Endangered Species Updates
October 17, 2017


Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
September 1-30, 2017

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and New Mexico.  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at  
www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf.

Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically or by visiting www.azgfd.com and clicking the E-news Signup tab on the top left corner of the webpage.

This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose.  The Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

To view semi-monthly wolf telemetry flight location information please visit http://arcg.is/0iGSGH or www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/RWL.cfm.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to:  the Alpine wolf office (928) 339-4329, Pinetop wolf office (928-532-2391) or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.


Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle is the new USFWS Assistant Director for Science Applications. The new USFWS Southwest Regional Director is Amy Lueders, formerly the Bureau of Land Management State Director for New Mexico.

On September 7, the USFWS met with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Chairman of the New Mexico State Game Commission to discuss Mexican wolf recovery issues.

The USFWS met September 29 with AGFD to discuss matching funds for Livestock Demonstration Grants for depredation compensation and payments for presence.

The USFWS convened a conference call on September 20 with staff from Congressman Pearce's office to discuss Mexican wolf recovery issues.

On September 27, a symposium entitled “Mexican Wolf Conservation: Two Decades of Reintroduction and the Future of Recovery” was held at The Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The symposium featured speakers covering a variety of topics from the USFWS, AGFD, USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services, Wolf Haven International, biologists leading the recovery effort in Mexico, and a local rancher.

Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history.  Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older.  Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups.  The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Our note:  You will notice that some of the wolves also have names associated with their identification numbers.  For the last five years we had a Pup Naming Contest for Kids to name the pups born in the Spring.  The names that you see are the winning names that we have assigned to the pups.  Follow these links for all the entries and results from the 2012 contest, 2013 contest, 2014 contest, 2015 contest and 2016 contest .


Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory.  In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. Studbook numbers listed in the monthly update denote wolves with functioning radio collars. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.


CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population experiences the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year.  This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups.

During annual year-end population counts, the IFT documented a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016.  At the end of September, there were 64 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring.

Wolves with functioning radio collars are listed by studbook number in the pack updates below.


IN ARIZONA:

Bear Wallow Pack (collared Poco-AM1338, and Bailey-AF1335)
In September, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory on the SCAR and on the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).  A minimum of three pups were documented with the Bear Wallow Pack in late summer; however this number may change as the IFT continues to document observations of this pack.

Bluestem Pack (Isra-F1489, Moonlight-f1563, and fp1665)
In September, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, Blaze-m1471, Dajanae-f1473, and fp1668)
In September, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. A female pup, fp1668, was captured, collared and released in September. The pack continued to display localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during the month of September.

Frieborn Pack (collared F1443 and Mago-M1447)
In September, the Frieborn Pack was documented within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF in Arizona and into New Mexico.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
In September, the Hawks Nest Pack consisted of one collared wolf, AM1038.  AM1038 was located traveling alone in the traditional territory of the Diamond Pack in the northern and central portions of the ASNF.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Moon Beam-f1550, Diamond-f1663, and mp1666)
In September, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF.  The IFT continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing.  A male pup, mp1666, in the Hoodoo pack was captured, collared and released in September.

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291)
In September, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and east central portion of the ASNF.

Panther Creek Pack (Fuerza-AM1382, Esperanza-AF1339, and Windy-m1574)
In September, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF.  Single yearling female 1484 and a minimum of three pups were documented traveling with the pack during the month of September.  The IFT continued to maintain a food cache for this pack to reduce potential for livestock depredations and with the goal of increasing survival of genetically valuable pups that the IFT cross-fostered into the Panther Creek Pack in May.

Prime Canyon Pack (collared Faith-F1488)
In September, F1488 and an unknown collared wolf continued to travel together within a territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.  F1488 was captured, recollared and released in late September.

Saffel Pack (collared Lupin-F1567 and mp1661)
In September, the Saffel Pack was located in the north eastern portion of the ASNF, north of the traditional territory of the Hoodoo Pack.  The IFT continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing.

Single collared - Rakesh-m1483
Yearling male 1483 was documented traveling alone in the north eastern portion of the ASNF in Arizona during September.

Single collared - Centinela-f1484
Female 1484 was documented traveling with the Panther Creek Pack in the Panther Creek’s traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF during September.

Single collared – Atira-f1562
Female 1562 was localized in the north central portion of the ASNF during September and has been documented traveling with an unknown collared wolf.


ON THE FAIR:

Diamond Pack (collared Aleu-m1559, Spirit-f1560, Rio Espiritu-m1571, and Argentum-m1572)
In September, the Diamond Pack was located in their traditional territory on the FAIR and in the north central portion of the ASNF. At the end of September m1571 was documented traveling separate from the pack. The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache on the ASNF for the Diamond Pack to reduce potential for further wolf-livestock conflict.

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and Ma'iitosoh-AF1283)
In September, the Tsay-O-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory on the FAIR.


IN NEW MEXICO:

Dark Canyon (collared Stella-F1444 and Monty-M1386)
During September, F1444 and M1386 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF.

Copper Creek (collared Artemis-F1456 and Bravery-M1354)
During September, F1456 and M1354 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, Acalia-AF1278, and Fortitudo-m1556)
During September, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).  The IFT continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during September.

Lava Pack (collared Gunnolf-AM1285 and F1405)
During September, the Lava Pack was located within their traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF.  The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts.

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, Cancion-AF1346, and Akela-m1561)
During September, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.  The IFT continued to monitor the pack for pup rearing behavior in September.

Luna Pack (collared AM1158 and AF1487)
During September, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache to reduce potential for livestock depredations.

Mangas Pack (collared M1296, Wuna-F1439, and fp1664)
During September, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in the north western portion of the GNF.  The Mangas Pack continued to display behavior consistent with pup rearing.  A diversionary food cache established in May to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts was removed by the IFT at the end of September. The Mangas Pack was not involved in any wolf-livestock conflicts during that time period.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, Adero-M1398, Peaceful-f1565, and mp1669)
During September, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  The IFT continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing in September.  The IFT captured, collared, and released mp1669 of the Prieto Pack during routine collaring efforts in September. A diversionary food cache established in May to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts was removed by the IFT at the end of September.  The Prieto pack was not involved in any wolf-livestock conflicts during that time period.

San Mateo Pack (collared Survivor-AF1399 and mp1582)
During September, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  The IFT maintained a supplemental food cache with the goal of increasing survival of the genetically diverse litter of pups.  The IFT captured, collared, and released mp1582 during collaring efforts in September. Male pup 1582 is a wild born pup, not one of the pups cross-fostered this spring.

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared Krypto-AM1284,  Selene-F1553, and mp1667)
During September, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  The IFT continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during the month of September.  The IFT captured, collared, and released mp1667 of the SBP pack during routine collaring efforts in September. A diversionary food cache established in June to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts was removed at the end of September.  The SBP pack was not involved in any wolf conflicts during that time period.

Single collared AM1155
During September, AM1155 was documented traveling within the GNF in New Mexico.

Single collared Tsuki-M1455
M1455 was not located by the IFT during September.

Single collared M1552
During September, M1552 traveled throughout central portions of the Cibola National Forest (CNF) and eastern portions of the GNF.

Single collared Paz-m1569
During September, m1569 traveled throughout central portions of the CNF and eastern portions of the GNF.

Single collared Da-Kari-m1486
During September, m1486 traveled throughout northern and central portions of the CNF.


MORTALITIES

There were no documented mortalities in September.  From January 1 to September 30, 2017 there have been a total of eight documented wolf mortalities.


INCIDENTS

During the month of September, there were two confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock and no nuisance incidents.  From January 1 to September 30, 2017 there have been a total of 16 confirmed depredation incidents in New Mexico and 15 confirmed depredation incidents in Arizona.

On September 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the calf had been killed by coyotes.

On September 7, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the calf died from a vehicle strike.

On September 7, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the calf died of unknown causes.

On September 10, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf died of respiratory illness.

On September 20 Wildlife Services investigated a dead bull in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the bull died from a vehicle strike.

On September 17, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf died of unknown causes.

On September 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf died of unknown causes.

On September 22, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf had been killed by a wolf.

On September 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf had been killed by a wolf.

On September 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the cow had been killed by a bear.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

On September 9, the IFT assisted with the annual calf branding at the Deadman Ranch in New Mexico.

On September 16, the IFT gave a talk on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program to a group of students studying habitat ecology from Arizona State University.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

In September, two new personnel joined the field team in temporary volunteer positions with the USFWS.

In September, the White Mountain Apache Tribe field personnel returned to the Interagency Field Team working on the FAIR.


REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.