Wolf News


Protect the Seco Creek Wolf Pack’s Wild Legacy


Originally appearing in the Albuquerque Journal: https://www.abqjournal.com/2498908/protect-the-seco-creek-wolf-packs-wild-legacy.html

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In March of 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service translocated two Mexican gray wolves from Rainy Mesa, the site of perennial livestock conflict and problems for lobo recovery. The pair was moved into captivity, gave birth to a litter of pups, and then were released back into the wild on the Ladder Ranch. For most of the last year, the young Seco Creek pack – including five surviving pups – were still staying close to each other and staying away from livestock.

Unfortunately, there have been a few dead cows in the last few weeks on the Gila National Forest, and those deaths are being blamed on the Seco Creek wolves. Because they were “confirmed” wolf kills by USDA’s Wildlife Services, the ranchers are eligible for state or federal compensation that varies by the animal’s value. Unlike lost livestock, these wolves are priceless.

The breeding male of the pack was introduced to the Elk Horn Pack in Arizona in 2018 by means of the cross-fostering program. Cross-fostering is when the agencies place genetically unrelated captive-born wolf puppies into wild dens, and then hope that the parents raise them alongside their biological puppies. He’s a valuable addition to the genetics of the entire population, and by breeding with the wild-born female, these offspring reflect a genetic diversity that offers hope for the recovery program.

The population of Mexican wolves in the wild is growing. But these animals are facing real threats to their future survival. The population count is not the only factor that matters when it comes to analyzing recovery. It also matters how related the wolves are to each other; all the remaining Mexican wolves in the world descended from just a handful of founders. Cross-fostering allows the wild population to receive an influx of new genetic material and reduces the threats of inbreeding.

In the case of the Seco Creek pack, the five pups still alive from the 2021 litter have a healthier genetic lineage than the average Mexican wolf family in the wild today. The Seco Creek wolves are getting ready to den again this year, which means more genetically diverse puppies are on their way into our world. The juveniles in the families tend to hang around with their parents long enough to help raise the youngsters. The whole Seco Creek family is essential to ensure the survival of the new litter and another generation of genetically-healthy wolves originating from the 2018 cross-fostering effort.

Unless and until the state wildlife agencies allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to release well-bonded families of wolves – something they continue to oppose despite the best available science showing it’s critical – cross-fostering is the only currently permissible method for improving Mexican wolves’ genetic health. It will take multiple generations for each cross-fostered wolf to make a dent in the overall population diversity, but it’s crucial that those animals stay in the wild.

The Seco Creek pack should be left alone for the benefit of future generations of both wolves and humans. If anything, they should be granted greater protections and celebrated. The Fish and Wildlife Service should not remove these important symbols of true wolf recovery.

You are donating to : Lobos of the Southwest

How much would you like to donate?
$20 $50 $100
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note