For Immediate Release, April 4, 2013
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Wildlife Services Agent Investigated in Illegal Shooting of Wolf in New Mexico
SILVER CITY, N.M.— A U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services employee who was working as part of an effort to recover the endangered Mexican gray wolf is being investigated in the unauthorized fatal shooting of a wolf. The incident reportedly happened on Jan. 19 but was not made public until a story today in the Albuquerque Journal, which was spurred by a tip from the Center for Biological Diversity. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had previously reported that “no wolf mortalities were documented” for the month of January, would not confirm the killing had taken place.
”The killing of any Mexican wolf is a tragedy, but this incident is magnified by the fact it appears there was an intentional effort to withhold information from the public,” said Michael Robinson, wolf advocate at the Center. “Wildlife Services has come under increasing scrutiny in the past year for its secrecy regarding the tens of thousands of animals it kills every year and the brutal methods by which this is accomplished. The fact that this incident appears to have been hidden from the public should further raise alarm bells about the need for reform of the wildlife-killing agency.”
The incident apparently occurred on New Mexico state land near the town of Mangas. It was the 13th federal shooting — and the 59th shooting overall — of a Mexican wolf since reintroduction began in 1998 into a recovery area that spans two national forests in New Mexico and Arizona. The shooting evidently took place very close to the home range of the San Mateo pack of wolves, which last year had four pups, two of which were radio-collared. The wolf shot in January was reportedly not radio-collared.
“Mexican wolves have died repeatedly in careless agency accidents, pushing this icon of the wild Southwest closer to the brink,” said Robinson. “We're deeply saddened that another wolf has died needlessly. If it hasn't occurred yet, the shooter should be removed from his duties.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.