The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to trap an endangered Mexican gray wolf living in the wild in New Mexico and put him in a pen, likely forever, as soon as his mate gives birth to their first litter of pups together. She could whelp any day now, and trapping would immediately be underway.
Those pups may only know their father, affectionately named Guardian by a young student, for a few days or weeks before he disappears. Notwithstanding human efforts to support the wolf mom and keep the pups alive, they will have a lower chance of survival without their dad.
With Mexican wolf numbers in decline, the Fish and Wildlife Service should be releasing captive wolves into the wild as recommended by scientists, not taking them out contrary to scientific guidelines.
Please call the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of the Interior and insist that the wolf-removal order be rescinded and that the father of this wolf family be allowed to stay in the wild. (The wolf’s official identity is M1396.)
Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator
Secretary of the Interior
If you are in New Mexico, please also call your two U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and request that they intervene with the Interior Department to stop this wolf trapping operation:
202-224-3121 (Capitol switchboard).
The wolf pair is living in the Gila National Forest. The targeted male wolf, given the name “Guardian” in a children’s pup-naming contest after his birth two years ago, comes from the Fox Mountain Pack — a wolf family that has endured repeated government persecution. Last year, Guardian’s brother was trapped by the government, and two years before their birth, the alpha female of the pack was trapped too; she never saw her family again and died in captivity after years of forlorn pacing of the fence that kept her from freedom.
Guardian is to be removed for killing cattle. But, while livestock owners are compensated for livestock lost to wolves, and offered financial and logistical assistance with depredation avoidance measures, there is no corresponding requirement for livestock owners to take measures to protect their cattle from depredations, or to remove livestock carcasses on public lands that can be scavenged by wolves, which is known to habituate wolves to prey on stock. This may have happened in this case, as the carcasses of two cows that died from calving complications were found in this area in February.
Last year, Mexican wolf numbers in Arizona and New Mexico decreased by 12% from 110 to 97 animals. There were only six breeding pairs. Three wolves have already died this year, including two accidentally killed by government managers in the course of trapping.
Fish and Wildlife Service routinely announces that it intends to release wolves from the captive breeding population but in deference to livestock industry opposition, rarely actually does so. Only four captive-bred wolves have been released during the entire Obama presidency; three are dead, including one killed by the government, and the fourth was trapped and placed back in captivity. The Service plans to release only one new wolf family in 2016.