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Monthly Status Report: December 1-31, 2019 - Arizona Game and Fish Department - January 17, 2020

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Endangered Species Updates
January 17, 2020


Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update
December 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
On December 10-12, USFWS, AZGFD, and NMDGF staff met with colleagues from the Mexican government to discuss ongoing bi-national recovery planning and population status of Mexican wolves in Mexico and the United States.

On December 5, USFWS staff met with the New Mexico State Lands Office to discuss ongoing management of Mexican wolves on state lands in NM.

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. Population counts for 2019 are currently underway. 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 December, there were 29 identified wolf packs (13 in AZ and 16 in NM) and 10 single collared wolves. There were 89 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 December, the IFT documented M1477 with an uncollared wolf in the pack’s territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, Flow-f1696, Rapido-f1697, and Kapok-m1698)
In December, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF in Arizona and New Mexico.

Hoodoo Pack (collared Copper-AM1290, Verde-AF1333, Suess-M1681, Daos-F1830, Shaman-m1789, fp1938, and fp1843)
In December, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. M1681 was documented making dispersal movements in the central and northern portion of the ASNF. Female fp1843 was found dead in New Mexico; the incident is currently under investigation.

Panther Creek Pack (Fuerza-AM1382, Denali-AF1683, and fp1939)
In December, the IFT documented the Panther Creek Pack in their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Prime Canyon Pack (collared Blaze-AM1471, Faith-AF1488, Everado-m1790, Genevieve-f1791, Asiza-f1823, fp1916, fp1919, fp1920, and mp1921)
In December, the IFT documented the Prime Canyon Pack within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. Subadult m1790 was documented making dispersal movements apart from the pack and travelling with f1701 of the Frieborn Pack in the east central portion of the ASNF at the end of December.

Rocky Prairie Pack (collared Isra-F1489)
In December, the IFT documented the Rocky Prairie Pack in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Saffel Pack (collared Kiko-AM1441, Lupin-AF1567, Yuma-f1833, and fp1844)
In December, the Saffel Pack was located within their territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. AM1441 was released back into Saffel territory from veterinary care and was documented travelling with the pack at the end of the month.

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 Fe-f1794
In December, f1794, a disperser from the Pine Spring Pack, was not located in its original territory in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. The wolf has not been located since September.

Single collared Fuerte-f1825
In December, the IFT documented f1825 travelling with an uncollared wolf in the northeastern portion of the ASNF. In December the IFT hazed f1825, on several occasions, from state land near cattle onto the ASNF in effort to prevent additional wolf-livestock conflict.

Single collared Crescita-F1686
In December, the IFT documented F1686 traveling in the east central portion of the ASNF.

Single collared Paprika-f1792
In December, f1792 was documented traveling with an uncollared wolf in the north eastern portion of the ASNF.

Single collared Koa-F1668
In December, F1668, was documented making wide dispersal movements in the Gila National Forest (GNF) in New Mexico and in the east central portion of the ASNF in Arizona.

Single collared F1959
In December, F1959 was documented 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 located in their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR and north central portion of the ASNF.

Maverick Pack (collared Sandy-AF1291 and Llave-f1828)
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. AF1291 has been documented in the pack’s original territory and has also been documented making dispersal movements on the FAIR and northeastern portion of the ASNF.

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared Aleu-M1559 and Ma'iitosoh-AF1283)
In December, the Tsay-O-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR and occasionally documented north of their territory on the FAIR.

Tu dil hil Pack (collared Luna Sombra-F1679, Poco-AM1338, and fp1841)
In December, the Tu dil hil Pack was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR.

Poker Pack (collared Journey-F1674)
In December, the Poker Pack was documented traveling in the eastern portion of the FAIR and the SCAR.


IN NEW MEXICO:

Cimmaron Mesa Pack (collared Okami-F1705)
In December, the Cimmaron Mesa Pack was documented traveling in the northwestern portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).

Colibri Pack (collared AM1555)
In December, the Colibri Pack was documented traveling together within a territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF.

Dark Canyon Pack (collared Bravery-AM1354, Artemis-AF1456, and Dumbledore-m1717)
In December, Dark Canyon m1717 was documented making wide dispersal movements across the central portion of the GNF.  The rest of the Dark Canyon Pack was documented traveling together within their traditional territory, in the west central portion of the GNF.

Datil Mountain Pack (collared Matsi-F1685)
In December, F1685 was not documented in December.

Frieborn Pack (collared AF1443, Terra-f1701, and Athena-f1702)
In December, AF1443 was documented travelling with M1829 in the north central portion of the GNF in New Mexico. Frieborn f1701 continued to use the pack’s territory in the east central portion of the ASNF and west central portion of the GNF in Arizona and New Mexico, respectively. Subadult female 1702 was not located in December and is now considered fate unknown as it has not been documented for three consecutive months. Genetic results for the wolf temporarily assigned studbook number fp1921 identified this wolf as fp1847 of the Rocky Prairie Pack. This wolf dispersed from the pack in December.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, Acalia-AF1278, Avlavis-M1821, Artimis-f1721, Cazador-m1710, and Isra-f1712)
In December, M1821, m1710, and f1721 were documented traveling in wide dispersal patterns within the ASNF and GNF in Arizona and New Mexico and continuing to return to their traditional pack territory.  The rest of the Iron Creek Pack was documented using their traditional territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF.

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

Leon Pack (Collared M1824 and Connie-F1578)
In December, the Leon Pack was documented within the northwestern portion of the GNF in New Mexico.

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

Luna Pack (collared AM1158, AF1487, Destello-m1831, and Lucero-m1838)
In December, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. An uncollared wolf, assigned studbook number 1849, from the Luna Pack was located dead in NM; the incident is under investigation.

Mangas Pack (collared AM1296, Wuna-AF1439, Filtiarn-M1832, mp1839, fp1840, and mp1842)
In December, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in the northwestern portion of the GNF.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251 and mp1845)
In December, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache and initiated hazing efforts to reduce potential wolf-livestock conflict.

San Mateo Pack (collared Survivor-AF1399, Obol-f1822, and mp1953)
In December, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF. In early December f1822 started showing signs of dispersal and was located dead at the end of December in New Mexico. The incident is under investigation.

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared Selene-AF1553 and fp1837)
In December, the SBP Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

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

Whitewater Canyon Pack (Shanna-F1684)
In December, the Whitewater Canyon Pack was not located by the IFT.

Single collared M1829
In December, M1829 was documented traveling with Frieborn AF1443 in the north central portion of the GNF.

Single collared Grenville-m1693
In December, M1693 was documented in portions of the north central GNF in New Mexico.

Single collared Janus-f1836
In December, f1836 was located traveling alone in the south central portion of the GNF.

Single collared fp1847
In December, fp1847 was documented traveling in the south-central portion of the GNF and the San Mateo mountains.


REMOVED TO CAPTIVITY (our addition)

Nakawé-f1835 from the Prieto Pack - Captured and removed to captivity as part of a management order in March 2019.

Maximus-m1695 from the Elk Horn Pack - removed to captivity due to repetitive confirmed depredations on livestock in September 2019.

AM1394 from the Pine Spring Pack - removed to captivity due to repetitive confirmed depredations on livestock in September 2019.


MORTALITIES

One uncollared wolf (assigned studbook number 1849) was found dead in New Mexico in December. Genetic results indicated it was from the Luna Pack. That mortality is under investigation. Two radio-collared wolves, Hoodoo fp1843 and San Mateo f1822, were both located dead in New Mexico at the end of December; both incidents are under investigation.  From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 there were 14 documented wolf mortalities in Arizona and New Mexico.


INCIDENTS

During the month of December, there were eight confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock and four confirmed wolf caused injuries. There were no nuisance incidents investigated in December. From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 there have been a total of 126 confirmed wolf depredation incidents and 10 probable wolf depredations in New Mexico; and a total of 58 confirmed wolf depredation incidents and one probable wolf depredation in Arizona.

On December 2, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf and an injured cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation and the cow was a confirmed wolf injury.

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

On December 11, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On December 12, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf and a dead cow in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined both animals were confirmed wolf depredations.

On December 12, Wildlife Services investigated an injured calf in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf injury.

On December 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On December 15, Wildlife Services investigated two injured calves in Catron County, NM.  The investigation determined that both calves were injured by wolves.

On December 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On December 26, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf depredation.

On December 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation concluded the cause of death was unknown.

On December 31, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, AZ.  The investigation concluded the cause of death was unknown.


COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

Throughout the month of December the USFS Wolf Liaison to the IFT coordinated with the Alpine, Springerville, Quemado and Reserve Ranger Districts to mitigate wolf-livestock conflicts. More than 55 livestock permittees were contacted via phone, email or text to communicate general wolf locations or other wolf related issues to try and reduce wolf-livestock conflicts.

In December, the IFT implemented the following proactive efforts to reduce livestock depredations: conducted 26 days/nights of hazing effort in areas having recent depredations, maintained one diversionary food cache, and conducted frequent contacts with livestock producers. The IFT continued efforts in December to analyze depredation data in order to identify opportunities to increase effectiveness of management efforts in 2020 to reduce and mitigate livestock depredations by wolves.


PROJECT PERSONNEL

There are no personnel updates for the month of December.


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.