By Rene Romo / Journal South Reporter
LAS CRUCES – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday ordered the killing of a female Mexican gray wolf, the mother of at least four pups, due largely to a string of cattle killings, including four since late March.
The order to kill the alpha female of the Fox Mountain pack in New Mexico due to cattle depredations is the agency’s first since a female wolf in the Gila Hot Springs area was shot by the USDA’s Wildlife Services branch in July 2007.
Since then, the Service replaced a rule that required removal from the wild of any wolf that killed three cattle in a year with a more flexible policy requiring management of “problem” wolves that repeatedly kill livestock.
In December 2011, federal agents shot a female wolf in the Gila because it was hanging around a ranch house and had been socializing with domestic dogs.
The Mexican gray wolf recovery effort, launched in a southeast Arizona national forest in 1998, has struggled against illegal poaching, staunch opposition among ranchers, and what critics call heavy-handed management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Initial estimates projected about 100 wolves roaming across national forests in Arizona and southwest New Mexico by the end of 2006, but at the end of 2011 the population numbered 58.
Service spokesman Tom Buckley said the order was an “extremely difficult decision.” The Service’s Mexican wolf recovery coordinator Sherry Barrett added: “We have a responsibility under our rules to respond to these depredations.”
Wolf advocates expressed dismay. “Way too many lobos have been shot already by the government and poachers, and none have been released to the wild in 1,361 days,” said Daniel Patterson, Southwest director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “This terrible call by the feds to kill a critical alpha female on Fox Mountain is another costly setback to wolf recovery in the Southwest.”
The kill order cited repeated depredations, including the fact three of the last four were on private land outside a designated 4.4-million-acre recovery area; the low genetic value of the wolf; and provisions in the recovery program’s rules covering the handling of “problem” wolves.
Barrett said three ranchers have received a total of $4,650 in compensation for four livestock depredations by the Fox Mountain pack in 2011 and 2012. Compensation from a fund managed by a nonprofit group has not yet been sought for livestock deaths in April and August of this year. Private funding was also provided to hire range riders to protect the cattle near the Fox Mountain pack.
The Fox Mountain pack alpha female had birthed at least four pups this past spring. Federal officials said they would continue providing supplemental feed to help the weaned pups survive.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal
PLEASE CALL NOW TO STOP THE SENSELESS KILLING OF THIS WOLF!
After you’ve called, please write a letter to the editor, thanking the papers for the story and condemning the decision to kill this wolf!
The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely read, influential parts of the newspaper. One letter from you can reach thousands of people and will also likely be read by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tips for writing your letter are below, but please write in your own words, from your own experience.
Letter Writing Tips & Talking Points
Below are a few suggestions for ensuring your message gets through clearly-your letter will be most effective if you focus on a few key points, so don’t try to use all of these. If you need additional help or want someone to review your letter before you send it, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Start by thanking paper for publishing this article.- This makes your letter immediately relevant and increases its chances of being published.
Let people know that by killing this wolf, the USFWS is depriving four pups born this summer of their mother, harming this family of wolves, and destroying one of only a few breeding pairs in the wild.
Tell readers that with only 50-60 Mexican wolves in the wild, every one is important, and this female wolf birthed four pups just this summer.
Remind people that are many solutions to conflicts between livestock and wolves, but there are very few Mexican gray wolves. Members of the livestock industry have a responsibility to share the land with wolves. Many livestock growers are taking steps to live with wolves and it’s been working -- this is the first wolf that the USFWS has decided to remove for livestock trouble since 2007.
Emphasize that the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to release more Mexican wolves into the wild, not kill the ones already there.
Convey how important new releases of wolves into the wild are to increase the population’s numbers and genetic health, especially now. The wild population is extremely small and vulnerable to threats such as disease, inbreeding, or natural events. Urge the USFWS to end the freeze on new releases of captive wolves into the wild.
Tell readers why you support wolves and stress that the majority of New Mexico and Arizona voters support the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Polling showed 69% support in New Mexico and 77% support in Arizona.
Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.
Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters.
Keep your letter brief, between 150-300 words.
Provide your name, address, occupation, and phone number; your full address, occupation, and phone number will not be published, but they are required in order to have your letter published.
Submit your letter to:
Farmington Daily Times:
Submit your letter here
(400 words or less)
The Las Cruces Sun News
Submit your letter here
. (300 words or less)
East Valley Tribune
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. (250 words or less)