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Monthly Status Report: March 1-31, 2019 - Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Endangered Species Updates
April 19, 2019


Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
March 1-31, 2019


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
As part of the March 29, 2018 appropriations bills, the U.S. Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain an independent assessment on the taxonomic validity of the Mexican gray wolf.  The National Academy of Science’s report was published in March, 2019.  The report confirmed the taxonomy of Mexican wolves as a valid subspecies and further determined that there is no evidence that the Mexican gray wolf genome include introgression from domestic dogs.

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 contest2017 contest, and 2018 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 end of year census for 2018 was a minimum of 131 Mexican wolves in the wild (64 in AZ and 67 in NM). This was about a 12% increase in the population from a minimum of 117 wolves counted at the end of 2017. 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.

At the end of March, there were 27 packs (13 in AZ and 14 in NM) and six single collared wolves. There were 80 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring. Not all of the wolves are collared. Studbook numbers following individual pack names below denote wolves with functioning radio collars.


IN ARIZONA:

Eagle Creek Pack (collared Canyon-M1477)
In March, the IFT continued to document M1477 traveling with an uncollared wolf in their usual territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, Koa-f1668, Volver-m1671, Maximus-mp1695, Flow-fp1696, and Rapido-fp1697)
In March, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Memphis-m1677, Suess-m1681, Daos-f1830, and Shaman-mp1789)
In March, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. The Hoodoo Pack was hazed by the IFT on multiple occasions during the month of March to mitigate wolf-livestock conflict on private land. The IFT also established a diversionary food cache to reduce potential for wolf-livestock conflict with this pack.  In March, M1677 was located dead in Arizona; the incident is under investigation.

Pine Spring Pack (collared AM-1394, Fe-fp1794, and Fuerte-fp1825)
In March, the Pine Spring Pack was located within their territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. 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, Everado-mp1790, Genevieve-fp1791, and Asiza-fp1823)
In March, the IFT documented the Prime Canyon Pack within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Rocky Prairie Pack (collared Isra-F1489)
In March, the IFT documented F1489 traveling separately from M1829 in the north and east central portion of the ASNF.

Saffel Pack (collared Kiko-AM1441, Lupin-AF1567, Paprika-fp1792, and Yuma-fp1833)
In March, the Saffel Pack was located within their territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. The Saffel Pack was hazed on multiple occasions to mitigate wolf-livestock conflict near private land.

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

Single collared Denali-f1683
In March, f1683 was documented traveling in the east central portion of the ASNF and occasionally on the FAIR.

Single collared – Fuerza-AM1382 (formerly Panther Creek Pack)
In March, AM1382 of the Panther Creek Pack was not located. AM1382 was last documented in February, travelling with f1683 of the Bear Wallow Pack in the east central portion of the ASNF and occasionally on the FAIR.

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

Single collared – Crescita-f1686
In March, the IFT documented yearling f1686 continuing to make dispersal movements within the north central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF) in New Mexico and the eastern portion of the ASNF.

Single collared M1829
In late March, M1829 was documented making large movements into the western portion of the GNF in New Mexico.


ON THE FAIR:

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

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291 and Llave-fp1828)
In March, 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 and Ma'iitosoh-AF1283)
In March, the Tsay-O-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory and occasionally documented north of their territory on the FAIR.

Tu dil hil Pack (collared Luna Sombra-F1679 and Poco-AM1338)
In March, the Tu dil hil Pack was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR.  AM1338, formerly of the Bear Wallow Pack, has been documented consistently traveling with F1679 and now meets criteria for being considered part of the Tu dil hil Pack.

Poker Pack (collared F1674)
In March, F1674 was documented traveling separately from Tsay-O-Ah pack on the eastern FAIR and occasionally on the SCAR. F1674 was documented traveling with an uncollared wolf for a period of time that meets the criteria for being considered a new pack.


IN NEW MEXICO:

Copper Creek (collared Stella-F1444)
During March F1444, the only wolf with a functioning collar in the Copper Creek Pack, was documented making wide dispersal movements in New Mexico outside the pack’s traditional range.

Dark Canyon (collared Artemis-AF1456, Bravery-M1354, and Dumbledore-mp1717)
During March, the Dark Canyon Pack was documented traveling together within their traditional territory, in the west central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).

Datil Mountain Pack (collared Matsi-F1685)
During March, the Datil Mountain Pack traveled within their traditional territory in the western portion of the Cibola National Forest (CNF), as well as portions of the ASNF in Arizona.  F1685 was documented traveling with Iron Creek M1821 for most of March.

Frieborn Pack (collared AF1443 and Athena-fp1702)
During March, the Frieborn Pack was documented within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF in New Mexico and Arizona.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, Acalia-AF1278, Zeus-M1555, Fortitudo-M1556, Prases-F1670, Avlavis-m1821, Artimis-fp1721, Cazador-mp1710, and Isra-fp1712)
During March, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF.  In March, M1556 was located dead in New Mexico; the incident is under investigation.

Lava Pack (collared Gunnolf-AM1285, AF1405, and Geronimo-mp1715)
During March, the Lava Pack was located within their traditional territory in the southeastern portion of the GNF.

Leon Pack (Collared M1824 and Connie-f1578)
In March, M1824 was documented traveling with San Mateo F1578 in the northwestern portion of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. They have been named the Leon Pack

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293 and Cancion-AF1346)
During March, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Luna Pack (collared AM1158, AF1487, and Destello-mp1831)
During March, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.[O1]

Mangas Pack (collared AM1296, Wuna-AF1439, Okami- f1705, and Filtiarn-m1832)
During March, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in the northwestern portion of the GNF. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache for the Mangas Pack to reduce potential conflict with livestock in March.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, Adero-AM1398, and Nelson-mp1827)
During March, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. During March, fp1835 and fp1836 were captured and removed to captivity as part of a management order. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache for the Prieto Pack to reduce potential for conflict with livestock in March.

San Mateo Pack (collared Survivor-AF1399, Obol-fp1822, and Lupa-fp1834)
During March, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared Selene-AF1553)
During March, AF1553 was confirmed traveling in the traditional territory of the SBP Pack in the north central portion of the GNF.

Squirrel Springs Pack (collared F1788 and Pecos-M1349)
During March, the Squirrel Springs Pack was located in the north central portion of the GNF.

Single collared Shanna-f1684
During March F1684 was located traveling with M1827 of the Prieto Pack in the north central portion of the GNF.


MORTALITIES

During the month of March, Fortitudo-M1556 of the Iron Creek Pack was located dead in New Mexico. Memphis-M1677 of the Hoodoo Pack was also located dead in Arizona during March. Both incidents are under investigation.

From January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2019, there have been a total of six documented wolf mortalities.

























INCIDENTS

During the month of March, there were 20 confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock and one confirmed wolf depredation on a dog.  There was one nuisance incident investigated in March.  From January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2019 there have been a total of 42 confirmed and three probable wolf depredation incidents in New Mexico and five confirmed depredation incidents in Arizona.

On March 3, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 5, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead dog in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the dog was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 9, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf and two dead cows in Catron County, NM. The investigations determined that the calf and one cow were confirmed wolf depredations. The cause of death for the second cow was unknown.

On March 11, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 12, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 14, Wildlife Services investigated two dead cows in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined both cows were confirmed wolf depredations.

On March 19, Wildlife Services investigated four dead cows in Catron County, NM. The investigations determined three cows were confirmed wolf depredations, one cow died from unknown cause.

On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 22, the IFT took a report of an elk killed by wolves next to a house near Alpine, AZ.  The IFT investigated the report and determined wolves from the Hoodoo Pack had killed a cow elk overnight within 50 feet of the residence. The carcass was removed to eliminate any attractant to wolves returning to the area.

On March 23, Wildlife Services investigated an injured horse that later died from injuries in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the horse was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 25, Wildlife Services investigated a dead bull and a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigations determined the bull and calf were both confirmed wolf depredations.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a probable wolf depredation.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow and calf in Greenlee County, AZ.  The investigation determined the two animals were confirmed as having been killed by wolves and classified as one depredation incident.

On March 28, Wildlife Services investigated three dead cows in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined one cow was a confirmed wolf depredation and two were probable wolf depredations.

On March 28, Wildlife Services investigated a colt that was injured and later euthanized in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the colt was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

The USFWS attended a USFS Forest Leadership Team meeting in Reserve, NM.

The USFWS and AZGFD attended the Mexican Wolf Livestock Council meeting in Springerville, AZ.

In March, WMAT contributed an article to “Nature’s Newsletter”, a publication of the Delaware Valley Eagle Alliance, on the WMAT Mexican Wolf Tribal Youth Conservation Program.

On March 6, 2019, the Alpine Conservation Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) provided outreach training to students from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico.  The Alpine CLEO spoke to criminal justice and vertebrate zoology students providing an overview of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and endangered species to include the Mexican gray wolf.

On March 11, WMAT presented to Canyon Day Cattle Association in Whiteriver, AZ.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

Sara Eno started with USFWS at the end of March.  Sara was a part of the IFT as the WMAT Field Team Leader and will be transitioning into the role of the Pinetop biologist for the USFWS.  Sara did an outstanding job as the WMAT Field Team Leader and will continue to work with the WMAT and AGFD in her new role.  Congratulations Sara!


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.