Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For Immediate Release: July 7, 2006

Michael J. Robinson, 505-534-0360

Federal Government Kills Another Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf
Latest Pack To Be Wiped Out After Scavenging on Livestock Carcass

Government agents killed the female of the Nantac Pack of Mexican gray wolves yesterday, several weeks after shooting her mate.

The two wolves were survivors of past predator control actions and had been re-released into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico in late April 2006. In early May, this pair scavenged on a bull that perished from disease, and the wolves subsequently killed four cows. The male wolf, which was born in the wild, was shot June 18, and the female was shot yesterday. She was a particularly valuable wolf genetically, one of the few wolves in the wild with DNA from all three of the Mexican wolf lineages that stem from just a few founding animals.

“This was an unnecessary killing,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. “If the Fish and Wildlife Service had followed scientists’ recommendations to keep wolves from scavenging on carcasses of cows and horses that they did not kill, the Nantac Pack would still be roaming the hills of the Gila together today.”

Mexican wolves were reintroduced in 1998 to the Gila and Apache National Forests in, respectively, southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, with the goal of reaching at least 100 animals by the end of 2006. It is believed there are presently fewer than 40 wolves in the wild plus an unknown number of pups born this year, and the population is declining.

The federal predator control program wiped out wolves originally, and since their reintroduction, it has significantly contributed to the reduction of the census population of Mexican wolves in the wild, from 55 at the end of 2003, to 44 at the end of 2004, to 35 at the end of 2005 – a 20 percent decrease in each year.

Within the last two months, federal agents killed 12 wolves, including six pups from one pack. A seventh pup was orphaned and has likely died of starvation as a result of losing its parents.

The June 2001, Mexican Wolf Three-Year Review, conducted by independent scientists led by Paul C. Paquet, Ph.D., concluded that too many wolves were being removed from the wild to allow the population to achieve demographic objectives. This “Paquet Report” recommended requirements for ranchers to remove or render inedible (by applying lime) the carcasses of cattle and horses that die of non-wolf causes, preventing wolves from scavenge on them and become habituated to livestock. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to implement this recommendation.

Earlier this week, the Center for Biological Diversity notified the Forest Service of the rotting carcass of a cow that was not killed by wolves in an area that is closed to grazing, north of the Gila Wilderness in the home range of the Luna Pack. A month ago, the Center reported trespassing cattle on the Gila National Forest in the home range of the Saddle Pack.

The Fish and Wildlife Service identified the Mexican wolf as the most endangered mammal in North American in 1986. The federal government poisoned and trapped all the gray wolves (including Mexican gray wolves) in the West between 1915 and 1945. Beginning in 1950, the Fish and Wildlife Service sent poison and personnel to Mexico to wipe out wolves there. Only passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 resulted in the live capture of the last five Mexican wolves (four male and one female) from Mexico for an emergency captive breeding program to save the subspecies from extinction. No wolves have been confirmed alive in Mexico since 1980.

As the result of a court settlement with conservationists, the Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing the progeny of those last survivors into the Apache and Gila National Forests in 1998.


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