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Mexican gray wolf
Albuquerque Journal, October 20, 2011

Mexico Releases 5 Wolves Into the Wild
By Rene Romo

LAS CRUCES – The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves roaming in the wild got a boost last week with the Mexican government’s release of five lobos in a mountain range in northeast Sonora state a few miles below the Bootheel.

The Oct. 11 release in the San Luis Mountains was announced Tuesday by a Mexican environmental organization, Naturalia. The group called the release, Mexico’s first lobo reintroduction effort, the product of more than 20 years of work by a variety of organizations.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said the release was significant because it not only establishes a second population of the endangered lobos in the wild, but does so in the predator’s “evolutionary home” where the wolves historically preyed on white-tailed deer and javelina.

At the end of 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 50 wolves in a recovery area spanning national forests in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico. The agency released wolves in southeast Arizona in 1998 in an effort to re-establish the species in its historic range.

The exact location of the release in the San Luis Mountains was not disclosed, and officials with the Mexican government and Naturalia were not available for interviews. The range reaches north to New Mexico’s Bootheel, ending close to the southern tip of the Animas Mountains.

The Mexican border is about 60 miles south of Interstate 10, which is below the federally designated wolf recovery area.

Fish and Wildlife traps Mexican gray wolves, designated an experimental, “nonessential” population, that wander outside the recovery area, and those inside the recovery area can be trapped and removed under certain circumstances, such as for repeatedly preying on livestock.

Sherry Barrett, director of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program, said Fish and Wildlife is developing a management plan that will spell out how federal officials can respond to depredating wolves that migrate across the border from Mexico but do not enter the designated recovery area. The management plan is scheduled to be released to the public in February, Barrett said.

Rancher Laura Schneberger, head of the Gila Livestock Growers Association, called the release a “bad idea.”

“It puts more of a burden on everybody,” Schneberger said. “All they (the wolves) have to do is cross the border and they have full endangered status, and that’s pretty bad for the ranchers along the border.”

The wolves in Mexico are fitted with radio collars supplied by the U.S., so they can be tracked if they cross the border.

©Albuquerque Journal

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton