Endangered Mexican gray wolf “Anubis” (m2520) was shot and killed illegally on the Kaibab National Forest west of Flagstaff on January 2, 2022. The wolf had become well-known for his successful forays north of Interstate 40 and beyond the boundary of the current recovery area, demonstrating not only the resilience of his subspecies but also his instincts to seek out good habitat to call home.
Anubis lived peacefully in the national forests north of Williams and Flagstaff from early May 2021 until mid-August 2021. However, the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) reacted with an expensive and ill-advised crusade to capture and move him back where they wanted him, not where he had chosen to be. This wasn’t just sad for Anubis – this was a huge missed opportunity to improve the science of wolf recovery and to study what a resilient animal like the wolf can do when allowed to roam freely in suitable habitat. Read more about the removal here.
The wolf, named “Anubis” by seventh graders in an annual pup-naming contest, was born in spring 2020 to the Dark Canyon Pack of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. It is natural for young wolves to disperse long distances and seek out new territories. Anubis had traveled at least 250 miles from his birthplace but may have traveled as much as 300-400 miles as he roamed the mountains and canyons around Williams and Flagstaff, AZ, an area north of I-40 that contains abundant elk and good hiding cover. He later added at least another 200+ miles to the trail he was trying to blaze for Mexican gray wolves as he traveled back to the area where he had been before AZGFD moved him.
Anubis followed his natural instincts to stay out of sight and out of trouble, roaming in excellent wolf habitat until his freedom was ended by a bullet that illegally claimed his life.
“We are heartbroken to learn that our adventurous young disperser wolf had his life illegally cut short by a human’s bullet,” said Emily Renn, Executive Director of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project. “Anubis filled us with the hope that wolves will keep coming back to the excellent habitat of the Grand Canyon region. I am grateful for the time knowing he was in the forests nearby. The power of people who love and care for wild creatures and want to see wolves restored to their rightful place will someday overcome the small minority of people who kill for no reason.”
“It’s tragic that Anubis was killed and many of us are grieving his loss, but despite this heinous crime, it is also profound confirmation that northern Arizona should be part of the wolf recovery effort,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project. “The arbitrary boundary at Interstate 40 is not based on science or suitability but on the continued reluctance of the state game agencies to let wolves be wild and roam wherever they choose.”
“The Arizona Game and Fish Department could have done more to protect Anubis, including public education efforts, the closure of hunting units, and by promoting coexistence,” continued Anderson. “As far as we know, the department didn’t do anything to ensure this wolf’s safety in the many months he was up north.”
If AZGFD is truly concerned about the welfare of these wandering wolves, they need to do a better job of informing the public that it is illegal to shoot a federally protected wolf and should enforce serious charges for criminals who violate state wildlife regulations and the Endangered Species Act.
We know from the stories of dispersing wolves in places like northern CA and CO that it can take several years of those wolves being left alone and wandering around before they successfully find themselves a mate and start a new pack. The best available science recommends that real recovery for Mexican gray wolves includes the establishment of a northern Arizona population. A new proposed rulemaking period gives the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an opportunity to expand the recovery boundary; the public comment period is open until January 27, 2022. Conservation groups are hoping that the federal agency will consider a plan to remove the Interstate 40 boundary. You can find more information about how to comment on the proposed rule here.
Anubis was wearing a bright pink collar at the time he was shot, and his death is under federal investigation. Mexican gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. 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 up to one year in jail, plus a potential civil penalty of up to $25,000.
Anyone with information about Anubis’ death should call 1-844-397-8477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a reward of up to $1,000, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the wolf’s death. Additional reward funds of up to $37,000 have been pledged by conservation organizations and private individuals for information leading to the conviction of anyone who kills an endangered wolf.
Take Action for Anubis and future wandering wolves!
Please send an email to the Arizona Game & Fish Department saying:
- You are heartbroken to learn about the death of Anubis (m2520). You had celebrated his amazing journey and are outraged that he was not protected in an area he clearly wanted to call home.
- You are concerned about Arizona Game & Fish Department’s lack of support for Anubis’ ability to blaze new trails for his subspecies in an area that has been identified as important for wolf recovery.
- The Arizona Game and Fish Department could have done more to protect Anubis, including public education efforts, the closure of hunting units, and promoting coexistence techniques.
- The agencies should focus first on public outreach and education, using only humane hazing options and hands-off coexistence methods where necessary.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game & Fish Department must do more to prevent illegal killings of endangered Mexican gray wolves. These rare wolves need stronger legal protections to recover and robust law enforcement with serious charges for criminals who violate these protections.
- You are calling on Arizona Game & Fish Department to do the right thing and let wolves like Anubis roam freely in the suitable habitat they choose. The next wandering wolf should be greeted by a welcome mat, not a bullet illegally claiming their life.
- The Arizona Game & Fish Department should support the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service revising the 10(j) Management Rule for Mexican gray wolves to conserve the subspecies and facilitate meaningful recovery in the wild in all suitable habitats – including northern Arizona.
- Wolves need freedom from politically-motivated boundaries limiting their recovery.
- You strongly oppose any capture efforts to move Mexican gray wolves that travel north of Interstate 40. Wolves should be allowed to continue on their journeys without risking potential harm during recapture and translocation, and the agencies should focus on keeping an endangered wolf safe wherever they roam.
- The landscapes of the Grand Canyon region evolved with wolves, and the people living in this region want to see our apex carnivore restored. Polling conducted in 2013 has shown 81% of Arizona voters support wolf recovery in the Grand Canyon region.
- We can predict that wildlife species will shift their ranges in response to climate change and Mexican wolves will likely move further northward into the Grand Canyon region if allowed to do so. The agencies must adequately address the potential changes in wolf habitat, prey species, water and vegetation distribution, and wolf movements due to the impacts of climate change in the revised Mexican wolf 10(j) Management Rule.
If you live in the area near Flagstaff or northern Arizona, you can include that personalized information, but it is not necessary to live here to submit a comment.
We encourage you to be respectful to all agency staff in your comments.
Send your email to:
Jim DeVos, Arizona Game & Fish Department Mexican Wolf Coordinator: email@example.com
Ty Gray, Arizona Game & Fish Department Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clay Crowder, Arizona Game & Fish Department Assistant Director
for the Wildlife Management Division: email@example.com
Further Action: Comment on 10(j)
You can also comment on the USFWS proposed 10(j) Rule using the information available here.
Improving the 10(j) Rule to ensure the long-term conservation of Mexican gray wolves is one of the most important steps we can take to protect wolves like Anubis.
We are mourning the loss of Anubis, but we are not giving up on fighting for the future of wolves just like him. Join us in securing their right to thrive in the wild places where they belong.