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Monthly Status Report: December 1-31, 2018 - Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Endangered Species Updates
January 14, 2019


Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
December 1-31, 2018

Due to the federal government shutdown, updates for the month of December were only available for Arizona and the FAIR.  Program updates for New Mexico from the month of December were not available from the USFWS at the time this report was prepared.


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 program 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 azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf. For information on the FAIR call (928) 338-4385 ext. 226 or visit wmatoutdoors.org.

Past updates may be viewed on these websites. Interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting azgfd.com and clicking on 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 Mexican Wolf Recovery Program is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), 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 location information please visit http://arcg.is/0iGSGH.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: the Alpine wolf office at (928) 339-4329, Pinetop wolf office at (928) 532-2391 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. For sightings or suspected depredations on the FAIR, please call the FAIR wolf office in Whiteriver at (928) 388-4385 ext. 226. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AZGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update
Due to the federal government shutdown, updates for the month of December were only available for Arizona and the FAIR at the time this report was prepared.

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) are used to indicate wolves younger than 24 months.  A lower-case letter "p" preceding the number is used to indicate a wolf pup born in the most recent spring. 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 contest2013 contest2014 contest,2015 contest2016 contest,  and 2017 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

The year-end minimum population count for 2017 was 114 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. 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 pup mortality generally occurs in this period). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year. Counting the population at the end of each year allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year when the Mexican wolf population is most stable. Year-end population counts for 2018 continued during the month of December.

IN ARIZONA:

Bear Wallow Pack (collared Poco-AM1338 and Denali-f1683)
In December, the IFT documented the Bear Wallow Pack in their territory on the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF) and occasionally on the SCAR and the FAIR. Yearling f1683 and AM1338 were documented traveling separately.

Bluestem Pack (collared Crescita-f1686)
In December, the IFT documented yearling f1686 making dispersal movements from the pack’s territory within the eastern portion of the ASNF.

Eagle Creek Pack (collared M1477)
In December, the IFT continued to document M1477 traveling with an uncollared wolf in a territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, Koa-f1668, Volver-m1671, mp1695, fp1696, and fp1697)
In December, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache to reduce the potential for human-wildlife interactions near residences. The IFT conducted hazing efforts on the Elk Horn Pack on one occasion when the pack was located in the community of Alpine. Male mp1695 was documented traveling separate from the rest of the pack in New Mexico.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Severus-m1666, Memphis-m1677, Suess-m1681, and mp1789)
In December, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. Yearling, m1677 was documented traveling separate from the rest of the pack in the east central portion of the ASNF. Male mp1789 was documented making dispersal movements from the pack’s territory in the east central part of the ANSF in December.

Pine Spring Pack (collared AM-1394, Atira-AF1562, fp1794, and fp1825)
In December, the Pine Spring Pack was located within their territory in the north central portion of the ASNF and occasionally in the north eastern portion of the FAIR. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache for this pack to reduce potential for wolf-livestock conflict.

Prime Canyon Pack (collared Faith-AF1488, Blaze-AM1471, mp1790, fp1791, and fp1823)
In December, the IFT documented the Prime Canyon Pack within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache for this pack to reduce the potential for human-wildlife interactions near residences.

Saffel Pack (collared Kiko-AM1441, Lupin-AF1567, Domingo-m1661, and fp1792)
In December, the Saffel Pack was located in their territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. Yearling m1661 was found dead in AZ; the incident is currently under investigation.

Sierra Blanca Pack (collared Rio Espiritu-M1571 and Moon Beam-F1550)
In December, the Sierra Blanca Pack was located in their territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF.

Single collared – Isra-F1489
In December, the IFT documented F1489 traveling in the north and east central portion of the ASNF.

Single collared – Windy-M1574
In December, the IFT documented M1574 traveling in the east central portion of the ASNF, the SCAR, and the eastern portion of the FAIR.

Single collared – Fuerza-AM1382 (formerly Panther Creek Pack)
In December, the IFT documented AM1382 traveling in the east central portion of the ASNF.


ON THE FAIR:

Baldy Pack (collared Essential-AM1347 and Spirit-F1560)
In December, the Baldy Pack was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR and the north central portion of the ASNF.

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291 and fp1828)
In December, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR and east central portion of the ASNF.

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared Aleu-M1559, Ma'iitosoh-AF1283, and Journey-f1674)
In December, the Tsay-O-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR. They were occasionally documented traveling in the east central portion of the ASNF. M1559, from the Tu dil hil Pack, has been documented traveling with the Tsay-O-Ah Pack since September 2018 and is now considered part of the Tsay-O-Ah Pack.

Single collared Luna Sombra-F1679
In December, F1679 of the Tu dil hil Pack was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR.

Single collared M1824
In December, M1824 was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR, north central and north eastern portions of the ASNF and the northwestern portion of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.


IN NEW MEXICO:

Updates for wolf packs in New Mexico from the month of December were not available from the USFWS at the time this report was prepared due to the federal government shutdown.


MORTALITIES

During the month of December, yearling m1661 of the Saffel Pack was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation. December mortality data for New Mexico was not available from the USFWS at the time this report was prepared due to the federal shutdown.

From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 there have been a total of 18 documented wolf mortalities.


INCIDENTS

During the month of December, there were no confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock in Arizona. There was one nuisance incident in Arizona. December depredation and nuisance data for New Mexico was not available from the USFWS at the time this report was prepared due to the federal shutdown.

On December 8, the IFT hazed the Elk Horn Pack after locating the wolves in an open pasture in Alpine, AZ near residences.

On December 5, WMAT investigated a dead calf on the FAIR.  The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed dog kill.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

There were no communication/coordination updates from Arizona during the month of December.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

In December, Emily Schafsteck and Jared Black joined the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program to work for the Arizona Game and Fish Department as wolf technicians.  Welcome Jared and Emily.


REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AZGFD 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.