By Mary Katherine Ray
Wildlife Chair, Rio Grande Chapter Sierra Club
Highly endangered Mexican wolves are being harmed by legally set leg-hold traps. These devices are illegal on public land on the Arizona side of the wolf reintroduction area but not in New Mexico.
Since the reintroduction began, 12 wolves on our side have been trapped by accident or mistake. Several of those have sustained injuries to their paws or legs including lost toes as a result. Two have had to have their legs amputated.
One of the still-living, three-legged lobos is the alpha male of the Middle Fork pack. His mate is also three-legged from an unknown cause.
The case of the other amputee, M1039, is special to me.
We live near the wolf recovery area in New Mexico and were delighted to learn that a lone collared male wolf was exploring the nearby forest. It was winter, though, the time when fur trappers lay their hidden menaces.
Not long after, we noticed a helicopter flying low up and down the canyons. It did this for hours as if looking for something. It turned out that M1039 had indeed stepped into a trap set for something else and had managed to detach it from its anchor chain.
He was now free to escape the place where the trap had been hidden, but he could not escape the trap.
He had to be found, which required the helicopter, so he could be captured for medical care. But the trap had been clenched on him for too long and the leg had to go. “¦
Click Here to read the rest of this Guest Column, published in the Albuquerque Journal on July 5, 2010.
You can submit a letter to the editor in support of banning traps to increase protections for Mexican wolves here: firstname.lastname@example.org