For Immediate Release, October 21, 2013
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017
With Government Shutdown Over, Feds, Arizona Resume Taking
Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Out of Wild
Three Wild-born Wolves in Arizona, New Mexico Targeted to Live Out Lives in Captivity
SILVER CITY, N.M.— With federal funds flowing once again, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will resume efforts this week to capture and permanently incarcerate two Mexican gray wolves. Along with the aerial darting of the two Arizona wolves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the trapping of one wolf in New Mexico. The two Arizona wolves have preyed on cattle; the New Mexico wolf, to be trapped later, will be a male selected at random from the Fox Mountain Pack, which also preyed on cattle (though the Service acknowledges the wolf to be caught might not have participated). Livestock owners have been or will be compensated.
The Arizona wolves, previously paired but without pups over the past two years, are traveling separately; the female is with a new male wolf who could help end her non-reproductive streak if she can manage to remain free.
“These three wolves should be allowed to live out their lives in the wild, where they belong,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Members of the Fox Mountain pack, who already lost their matriarch to government trapping last year, should not have to lose another family member. And the new pair deserves the opportunity to raise pups and contribute to the survival of their kind — not be chased by helicopters and have the female taken away and penned up forever.”
The removal of these animals would further undermine recovery of Mexican wolves, whose numbers and genetic integrity have been sapped by federal wolf trapping and shooting. Since reintroduction began in 1998, the government has permanently removed 54 wolves from the wild, including 13 shot by predator-control agents and 19 accidentally killed due to live-trapping operations.
At last count this past January, the wild population numbered 75 wolves. A new count will take place in January 2014.
Even more worrisome, inbreeding is causing smaller litter sizes in the wild and lower pup-survival rates; the wild population included just three breeding pairs last year. The inbreeding is the result of several factors, including an initial founding size of just seven survivors of a previous era of federal wolf persecution. The problem has been exacerbated by wolf removals since reintroduction began in 1998; ongoing, illegal wolf killings; and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s release of only one wolf from the captive-breeding population into the wild over the past five years (a wolf that, moreover, was recaptured three weeks later).
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.