For immediate release: October 18, 2022
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project
SILVER CITY, N.M. – One of the most genetically-valuable Mexican wolves in the wild has been found dead in New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed the death of Mexican wolf #1693, the breeding male of the Seco Pack, but will not provide any details on his killing while the incident is under law enforcement investigation.
“When I first heard the news, I was heartbroken, but now I’m just angry,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director with Western Watersheds Project. “These are highly social animals with deep family ties and they work together for the whole pack’s survival. Anyone who kills a collared wolf is either an inept coyote hunter or a sick human being.”
Mexican wolf #1693 was released into the wild in 2018 at just 15 days old, after being born in captivity and then cross-fostered into a wild wolf den in an effort to increase the genetic diversity of the wild population. He and his mate #1728 were captured and moved from the Rainy Mesa area near Reserve, New Mexico in the spring of 2021 and then renamed the Seco Pack and released with their puppies on the privately-owned Ladder Ranch adjacent to the Gila National Forest. Sierra County and a handful of ranchers sued the Service over that translocation, but lost their case last July. In spring of 2022, numerous elected officials were again calling for his removal. The wolf family has since stayed in the same general area on public lands northwest of Winston, New Mexico and survived the Black Fire.
“The good news is that wolf #1693 was able to successfully father two litters of pups, which is a testament to the U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service’s willingness to leave him in the wild in 2021 and 2022,” said Anderson. “The bad news is that his ability to continue to contribute to the overall diversity of the wild population was tragically cut short.”
His killing is also a violation of the Endangered Species Act, subject to civil and criminal penalties including a year in jail and a $50,000 fine with additional New Mexico state penalties for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act. It is illegal to shoot a Mexican wolf under any circumstances and hunters are responsible for differentiating wolves from coyotes. In this case, wolf #1693 was wearing a bright red telemetry collar and the local community was aware there were wolves in the area.
A reward of up to $50,000 is available for information leading to the conviction of the killer(s) of Mexican wolves.