For Immediate Release, March 16, 2007
Contact: Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (505) 534-0360
Federal Managers Gun Down Wild-born Mexican Gray Wolf
SILVER CITY, N.M.— A federal predator-control agency today shot down Mexican gray wolf known as “m1007” from a fixed-wing aircraft. The endangered wolf was killed by U.S. Department of Agriculture bullets just after he emerged, with the rest of the Saddle Pack, from the northern edge of the Gila Wilderness near Wolf Hollow in southwestern New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.
The two-year-old, wild-born but radio-collared wolf was blamed for killing cattle in the Beaverhead area a few miles to the north – a region of mixed national forest, Bureau of Land Management, state and private lands. That region has been notorious for cattle carcasses that other wolves have scavenged on in years past, habituating pack after pack to preying on cattle and paying the consequences.
Wolf 1007 was the tenth wolf to be gunned down by the government since reintroduction began in 1998. Twenty others have died unintentionally as a result of capture, and 24 wolves captured in the wild are in permanent captivity. A 1996 “Environmental Impact Statement” on the 1998 wolf reintroduction projected the wild Mexican wolf population would reach 102 animals, including 18 breeding pairs, by the end of 2006. The estimated actual number today is 57 wolves and just five breeding pairs.
A newly released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service email from April 2004, obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that the government shooting of the Saddle Pack’s alpha male that year followed the Fish and Wildlife Service’s acknowledgment that he was the most genetically valuable wolf in the wild at the time, and was irreplaceable genetically. He was shot in July 2004, almost three months after he had last depredated.
Conservation of the Mexican wolf’s limited gene pool is important because just seven founding Mexican wolves, three of them captured between 1977 and 1980, and the other four predating those in captivity, endowed the entire subspecies’ genetic inheritance. The Mexican wolf is at risk for inbreeding depression and ensuing decline in resilience, vigor and reproductive ability. Low birth rates in the wild may already signify inbreeding depression.
Federal predator control that scapegoats wolves and is premised on requiring no responsibility from livestock owners — even on public lands — is keeping the Mexican wolf population low and preventing recovery. On February 20, 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot the San Mateo Pack’s alpha male despite the fact that one of his depredations counted toward his killing had occurred on a calf that was not “lawfully present” on federal lands, as specified in the standard operating procedure governing Mexican wolf predator control.
In December 2006, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service over mismanagement of the Mexican wolf. The case has not yet been heard.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, science-based nonprofit organization that works to protect endangered species and wild places. The Center has more than 35,000 members and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.