Two previous unknown packs have been discovered-

Instead of a growing population, the number of wild Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico has hung between about 40-60 animals for years now. On top of that the Arizona  government for three years now has refused to release any of captive Mexican wolves that have been held in reserve.

Now, however, two previously unknown male/female pairs of wild Mexican wolves have been discovered.  Technically these might be considered to be packs because they will more than likely produce pups next spring. This last spring  18 pups were born.  However, the previous year the pup number was higher than that and yet half of them died or were killed before the end of their first year.

The Mexican wolf was extinct in the wild.  That last handful in the wild were captured to put them in a number of breeding facilities to build up a population for re-release in the wild. In the facilities great care is taken to conserve what little genetic diversity exists in the captive population.  In the wild, the effects of lack of genetic diversity shows up in part by smaller than normal litters and depressed levels of pup survival.

Releases of part of the captive population began in the Arizona/New Mexico border area in 1998.  This is wild country. However, poaching and control for livestock depredations have, nevertheless, taken a continual toll of the small wolf population.  Currently Arizona Fish and Game has been releasing new wolves only on a “case-by-case” basis, and they can’t seem to find any cases to merit a release.  New Mexico’s government had been relatively supportive of the program, but in 2010 a tea party governor was elected.  She is ideologically hostile to wolf restoration and the state withdrew from the program.

 

 
avatar
About The Author

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.

20 Responses to Some rare good news for Mexican wolves

  1. avatar Nate Hobbs says:

    How about we leave them be rather than chase them down with helicopters drop them with tranquilizers and collar them in the name of science and preservation.

  2. avatar Maska says:

    Just a little addition to the report: One of the two newly designated packs, the Elk Horn Pack, appears to have denned this year. Although no pups have yet been confirmed, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. The alpha female of this pack, F1212, is a two-year-old disperser from the San Mateo Pack. The Elk Horn Pack has denned fairly close to Reserve, NM, the county seat of Catron County, in an area with several good-sized inholdings and a number of roads, both of which give reason for caution in predicting the lobos’ likelihood of success.

    The other new pack, the Canyon Creek Pack, does not appear to have denned this year. The pack so far consists of M1248, a disperser from the very successful Hawk’s Nest Pack in Arizona, and F1246, a disperser from the Luna Pack in New Mexico. The Canyon Creek Pack has recently been hanging out in the area of the T Bar Grassland, an area of rolling, grassy hills north of the Gila Wilderness. It is grazed by livestock, but is somewhat more remote than the home range of the Elk Horn Pack.

  3. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Maska,

    Thank you so much for the detailed update on the status of the wolves. We seem to be able to count on you for the most accurate details.

    • avatar Maska says:

      Ralph, location information, denning status, and other information I used in my comment are all available in weekly flight location reports and monthly updates posted on both the FWS and AZGFD websites. It does take a little effort to pull all the pieces of the story together, but the basic facts are all public. Oh…and maps of the Gila and Apache National Forests are useful, too.

      • avatar Salle says:

        I thank you for making the effort and putting your findings up here.

        • avatar Maska says:

          You’re welcome, Salle. I try to keep up with the news from the field, but as the number of wolves and packs increases, it becomes a bigger task. Fortunately, I enjoy it.

  4. avatar Salle says:

    With the cattle industry withering in the massive heat wave, maybe there’s hope for the Mexican Grays after all.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      People with private land are selling their livestock because they can’t feed them off the land (and can’t afford to buy feed).

      I worry that public land lease holders might try to keep their dying livestock on our public lands until they really do die, trying to save a buck. They might destroy the range in doing so for many kinds of wildlife.

      This is just my fear, but it needs to be investigated.

      • avatar Salle says:

        A lot of them are selling off their herds before they lose everything invested. Let’s hope their desire for the cash is strong enough to spare the land from further degradation.

        I can also imagine that they would blame wolves for any losses even though there’s no excuse for leaving cattle out in the drought conditions with extreme heat of late. Of course, they might think that compensation for predation would be worth more than current market value given a current potential glut of cattle being sold off because of the drought conditions… which would really be unfortunate in the short term but maybe belie their intentions in the long run if they chose to make such a claim.

      • avatar Salle says:

        And then there’s this sort of thing that doesn’t bode well for any wildlife anywhere:

        More emergency grazing opened for drought-stricken cattle

        http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/more-emergency-grazing-opened-for-drought-stricken-cattle/article_ec828276-eeae-595b-a974-6962ca8f44b9.html

        As long as we the taxpayers are footing the bill this is going to expand since the drought isn’t expected to dissipate anytime soon, this year or next and beyond.

  5. avatar Snaildarter says:

    Glad to here Az and NM grey wolves are holding their own. I’d to the northern wolf range extend into California, have there been any addtional sightings other than the one lone male a while back.

  6. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Nice to hear some good news for these wolves.

  7. avatar Jeff N. says:

    And now some bad news. The alpha male of the Blue Stem Pack was recently found dead and the death is under investigation. The Blue Stems are a pack that is confirmed to have pups of the year, so we’ll see if the Alpha Female and remaining pack members can raise them.

    This is the third known mexican wolf death of the year.

  8. avatar louise kane says:

    Jeff
    what happened to the the alpha male that was found dead, any news yet

  9. avatar eloise says:

    Those radio collars aren’t ‘rocket science’. Let’s leave the wolves alone so they can’t be hunted.
    On the ‘calif. wolf’ – he gave up and went back over the border. No females/no males – only logical.

    • avatar Snaildarter says:

      Maybe if our California male encountered lots of good food sources he can steal a female and entice her back into California. Who knows maybe a few grizzlies might follow so it least then they can be true to their name sake the golden bear state. Seriously wolves need to be in blue states it might be safer there. Radio collars worry me too, do we have any evidence that the bubbas been using them to track wolves?.

  10. avatar Ben Schoppe says:

    Public land grazers are the best custodians available. They are truly vested in the productivity of those lands as their livelihood depends on it.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Ben – when you can pull yourself away from “trolling” go down to your local library and see if they have a copy of Welfare Ranching, The Subsidized Destruction of the American West or, you might be able to find a used copy on Amazon.

      Its a BIG book, but filled with all sorts of interesting photos re: public lands grazers, should have a problem relating to the text.

Calendar

July 2012
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

%d bloggers like this: