From WildEarth Guardians:
Like most wolf packs in the Gila that are small, the Middle Fork pack is comprised of the alpha male (AM871) and the alpha female (AF861). We believe these two survivors will benefit from the recognition afforded them by having names.
Names Not Numbers
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently refers to these two animals as “AM871” and “AF861. Since time immemorial, humans have named wolves; people have named wolves out of respect and even out of fear. We name them to honor their individual identity and transcendent spirits. Their perseverance and endurance should be recognized with inspirational names rather than by sterile numbers.
WildEarth Guardians offers this chance to name two iconic wolves in the West. These two formed a pack in 2006 and have been carving out a living ever since. They have bred for the last two years, although unfortunately as is the case throughout the Gila, puppy mortality has been high.
The contest is being conducted in two phases. Until July 10 participants were instructed to submit names that either referenced the Gila, or the species and its characteristics, or a name that evokes beauty.
Now our all star wolf panel has selected four names for both the male and the female (from over 800 names) and we're asking you to cast your vote for the final names. You have until July 27 to vote on these names and can vote only once.
The Four Final Male Names Chosen
Aldo, Zapata, Valiente and Bacho
Why were these names selected?
Aldo -- This name honors the great conservationist and wolf advocate, Aldo Leopold, who first came to the Greater Gila in 1911 to work for the Forest Service. Aldo’s vision and tenacity later helped to convince the U.S. Government to designate the Gila wilderness, America’s first, which is where this wolf now roams. Aldo’s eloquent essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” shares his own ecological epiphany about the importance of wolves and laments U.S. wolf extermination policies.
Zapata -- Emiliano Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary who fought for the Mexican people’s freedom and lands. He became a legend in Mexico for his fight to protect the lands and rights of the most marginalized peoples. Likewise, this alpha male wolf has become somewhat legendary as he fights to survive in the midst of hostile local ranchers who’ve sought to have him and his mate killed for years.
Valiente -- In Spanish “valiente” means brave or valiant, a name well suited for this alpha male given that he was caught in a trapper’s steel leg-hold trap and, as a result, had his left leg amputated in 2008. Since then this alpha male has chased down deer and elk, raised pups, and avoided poachers. His valor and resilience inspire this selection.
Bacho—“Bacho” is the Apache word for wolf and given that the Middle Fork Pack roams the highlands that were once the summer home of the Apache people, this selection recognizes them. In addition, this name honors a now deceased wolf pack of the same name, whose alpha male was killed by a poacher; poaching remains one of the biggest threats to Mexican wolf recovery.
The Four Final Female Names Chosen
Esperanza, Gila, Trinity, and Persistence
Esperanza -- “Esperanza” is the Spanish word for hope. In addition to honoring the long history of Spanish culture in the Mexican wolf’s region, this beautiful name conveys the multiple feelings these wild animals evoke including our hope for their survival and conservation.
Gila -- Early Spanish explorers to the area of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona where Mexican gray wolves now exist gave the name Gila (which they spelled “Xila”) to the river, whose headwaters are the home territory of this wolf and her mate. Some believe the word may be derived from an Apache word for mountain.
Trinity -- The English word “trinity” derives from the Latin “trinitas,” meaning three or triad. The alpha female of the Middle Fork packs survives on only three legs; one had to be amputated after she suffered a gunshot wound to her front right leg by a poacher, and thus this name captures one of the defining physical characteristics of this resilient female.
Persistence -- This alpha female not only survives on three legs but also has persisted for years amidst ranchers who have targeted her for permanent removal because she has occasionally preyed on cattle that are permitted to graze on national forests. The ability of this female wolf to endure and overcome physical limitations in a hostile landscape is a constant reminder to us of what it means to persist.
P.S. Visit WildEarth Guardians brand new "Wolf Den"
, home of the Mexican wolf in the Gila. Learn more and connect with wolves, and then take action to protect these beautiful carnivores. If a million people interact with wolf den, we believe 50,000 will write a letter and 5000 will show up at a rally. We can make it better for wolves.