Possible gray wolf seen on northern NM ranch. AP.

This is on Ted Turner’s huge Vermejo Ranch. A wolf could migrate from Yellowstone this far south.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

11 Responses to Possible gray wolf seen on northern NM ranch

  1. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    So, a wild wolf is spotted, and the first reaction is to set traps and put a collar on the wolf.

    Will there ever come a time when wolves are simply left to themselves in order to, you know, actually be wild wolves?

    Sometimes I get as angry toward the biologists and officials that trap and collar wolves than I do at the people that shoot wolves on sight for little reason other than fear or hatred.

  2. avatar JB says:

    “Will there ever come a time when wolves are simply left to themselves in order to, you know, actually be wild wolves?”

    That time is now; if you’re a wolf living in the upper Midwest or Canada. Only in the West are they given such special status. I wonder why…

    (I’m not suggesting we don’t collar wolves in the Midwest, but we don’t feel compelled to collar every pack).

  3. avatar Jim says:

    It is something that the wolves in MN and WI live in areas that have a huge human population density (at least compared to out west) and very few have been killed by people, and also there have been very few issues with livestock or pets getting killed.

    It is amazing how the vast areas of the west have so many more problems with the few wolves there are.

  4. Jim,

    The West is much less forested, so people see the wolves more often. Those of the worrying kind, get to see the object of their worries.

    In addition, there is just more hostility in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to begin with. There is a tradition of disliking the federal government’s resource policies. I think it was Wallace Stegner who summed up that attitude a long time ago — send us the federal money and then leave us alone.

    New Mexico is a weird case. There is huge support for wolves there, but inside New Mexico their is the sore spot of the unpleasant holdouts in unpopulous Catron and some surrounding counties.

  5. avatar Catbestland says:

    The San Juan Mountains of southwesternern Colorado, just north of the area mentioned in the article is a perfect place for wolves. Large parcels of public lands are rugged and secluded and not particularly suited for livestock grazing because of diffuculty in access. Game is plentiful. If anyone was interested in a little rescue mission to capture wolves condemned to die in Wyoming and Idaho, count me in. I know just where to release them here in Colorado.

  6. avatar Maska says:

    JB,

    While I sympathize with your concern over the collaring and often heavy handed management of wolves in the West (and especially in the Southwest), it’s unlikely that any wolf that turns up on one of Turner’s properties won’t be subjected to collaring and monitoring.

    Turner’s folks have, as I’m sure you’re aware, been involved in the reintroductions in both the Northern Rockies and in AZ/NM. The Ladder Ranch, a couple of hundred miles south of Vermejo Park, is one of the three pre-release holding facilities for Mexican wolves. There’s simply no way any wandering wolf will be allowed to hang out on one of Turner’s three big NM ranches unstudied.

    On the other hand, if this critter is a dispersing gray wolf from up north, it picked the right place to land. At least it won’t be shot by one of those “unpleasant holdouts” Ralph mentions above! Turner has had the welcome mat out for wolves at Vermejo for years.

  7. avatar natehobbs says:

    would the Yellowstone variety of Grey Wolves spell trouble for the endangered smaller subspecies in that area?

  8. avatar JB says:

    Maska,

    Actually the collaring doesn’t bother me all that much, when its used for scientific purposes. However, it does bother me that western managers feel the need to collar every pack in order to have a “Judas” wolf in case that pack “need” to be removed.

  9. avatar Maska says:

    I totally agree. It’s especially galling in the Southwest, where permittees are actually issued telemetry receivers in order to keep track of wolves near their livestock or inholdings. This is not widely known outside the area, but it has been going on since at least 2003/2004.

    The December 24, 2007 article in High Country News alluded to the practice and the part it may have played in the alleged baiting of Durang AF924.

  10. avatar Maska says:

    That should be “Durango AF924,” of course.

  11. avatar JB says:

    In defense of this reaction by ranch administrators: even if you look at their website, they speak of their plans to eventually bring the wolf back to the area (bordering Colorado and New Mexico)! A pretty revolutionary idea considering the vast controversy reintroduction caused in NM (and its proposal has cause quite a bitter stir in CO). Since the land is private land, they really can administrate it as they see fit, and knowing the hands it’s in, I think it is better off than in federal hands!

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