The USDA Wildlife Services Wildlife Specialist “Mistook” it for a Coyote

The Endangered Species Act affords protection against unauthorized take of the Mexican gray wolves, and makes it a criminal offense to kill one. 16 U.S.C. §1540(b). The Final Rule for the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves codifies the prohibition against killing the wolves and in an accompanying Federal Register notice, the USFWS states that shooting a reintroduced wolf by mistake would not be an adequate defense against criminal changes. 63 Fed.Reg. 1758-1759 (Jan 12. 1998).

So, how is it that on January 19, 2013, a Wildlife Services “Wildlife Specialist” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot and killed a young, female Mexican gray wolf (#1288) from the San Mateo Pack in New Mexico and managed to avoid federal prosecution?

Because he “ thought it was a coyote.”

Female Mexican Wolf #MW 1288

Female Mexican Wolf #MW 1288

That’s right. The same person who has been a lead investigator of Mexican wolf related livestock depredations in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of New Mexico for approximately seven years. A person who is an experienced hobby trapper. A “specialist” who reportedly watched the canid for “several minutes” through the scope on his hunting rifle. A person who had been called to the scene to investigate whether wolves were responsible for a livestock depredation and who knew wolves were on site the day prior.

This federal agent “mistook” a yearling wolf (40 lbs) for a coyote (25-30lbs) and is still on the job.

According to the investigation report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and linked here, here’s how the whole thing apparently went down:

A pack of ten wolves were reported at the ranch headquarters on 1-18-13 and the [ranch employee] reported shooting [his] rifle into the air to scare the wolves away from the residence. When a cow carcass was found in the immediate vicinity the following day (1-19-13), [he] called the MGWRP to report the possible depredation.

On January 19, 2013, the [redacted] government agent was checking his personal traps on his day off when he was called to investigate the dead cow. Upon arriving at the location, the agent used [his] radio telemetry equipment to determine there were no collared wolves in the area on the 19th, and the investigation was inconclusive as to the cause of death of the cow. No sign of wolves was seen in the vicinity of the cow carcass.

However, someone told the agent that [he] had seen a calf with a bloodied ear about ¼ mile away the day previous (January 18). [He] and the ranch employee went to that area to find the calf and look for signs of wolves there. On the way, they encountered a canid running 300 to 400 yards from the road and so they traveled within 250 yards and observed it “for several minutes” through a scope. [In another section of the investigation, someone reports that [he] shot a coyote that “was eating on the calf carcass when they drove up.”] [He] proceeded to “bark” at the canine and then shot it with one shot from his government issued firearm.

Then, the agent and [his] companion went towards the area the canine was running from and found a fresh calf carcass, which was determined to have been due to a Mexican gray wolf. Then the agent went back to the canine carcass and discovered it was a young wolf pup. [He] then moved the carcass and called a contact at the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Project (MGWRP) and was instructed to contact US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement.

Supposedly, the wolf killer was very distraught that [he] had shot and killed a wolf and “stated numerous times that [he] was afraid [he] was going to lose [his] job over the incident.”

If only.

Instead, after the US Fish and Wildlife Service completed its investigation and turned the materials over to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute. The alleged misidentification of the wolf fell under the DOJ’s so-called McKittrick Policy. This discretionary policy of the Department of Justice (DOJ) precludes prosecution of individuals for the illegal killing of an Endangered Species Act-listed species unless the government can prove the defendant knew the biological identity of the animal s/he was killing.

The Biological Opinion of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction states that there is a slight potential for Wildlife Services agents to mistakenly shoot a wolf believing it was a coyote. Page # 63 the BioOp says: WS agents “shall be knowledgeable at a professional level in identification of Mexican wolf . . .”

In this instance, the “Wildlife Specialist” working for WS either knew that s/he was shooting at a Mexican gray wolf or this “specialist” is woefully underqualified for the position s/he fills. In either case, the agent should be removed from this position.

Moreover, there is nothing in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) that authorizes a federal agent investigating a suspected depredation to shoot at anything, much less an uncollared canid resembling a wolf. The Depredation Response SOP #11 details documentation, preservation, monitoring, and investigation methods– but nothing that encourages the IFT Investigator to kill wildlife at the scene.

Oh, and one more thing: when the necropsy was conducted on wolf 1288, she already had a bullet lodged in her neck from a non-lethal .22 caliber gunshot within the prior week. When asked, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that since no .22 caliber guns were registered to the ranch manager, there wasn’t anything else to investigate.

Case closed.

You can read the reports here:
M1288 April 10 2013 report
M1288 August 14 report
M1288 February 27 report

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Western Watershed Project’s Idaho Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is also serves as a member of the board of directors for Buffalo Field Campaign.

64 Responses to The Tragic Story of the Death of Mexican Wolf 1288 at the Hands of USDA Wildlife Services

  1. avatar Ben Giaquinto says:

    After recently watching “Exposed”, about the USDA/Wildlife Services methods in dealing with wildlife, especially predators, unfortunately I’m not surprised. This news leaves me with a heavy heart despite my lack of surprise. These supposed wildlife ‘specialists’ really seem to enjoy killing. And these are the people who are first on the scene with such sensitive issues. Can a petition be started demanding that he(or she)lose his job. I know he’s exempt due to the clause mentioned in the article, but still, petition???

    • avatar Colleen Hunt says:

      A petition would help spread the word about this travesty. Why not just allow the hungry wolf to finish eating the carcass, and compensate the rancher for the loss to wildlife? There was no need to kill an innocent wolf that was hungry, and hadn’t even killed the cow. What are ranchers doing to help, besides tattling on wildlife, wolves or coyotes, and causing more loss of life, to protect animals that they are raising for human consumption and profit anyway?

  2. avatar Donna Porteus says:

    It’s stories like this that will finally bring USFWS to its knees. They seem to have poor insight to their own shortcomings and to outsider perception to agent wrongdoing. If the agency cannot police its own employees, then someone else must. They are in need of a new mission statement and new leadership.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      USDA Wildlife Services and US Fish and Wildlife Service are separate agencies.

    • avatar Larry says:

      Donna,
      Please get it straight that the WS Agent is NOT an employee of USFWS. FWS is under the Dept of Interior and WS (Wildlife Services) is a Dept of Agriculture entity. The truth be told they generally oppose each other.

  3. avatar Diane Gubrud says:

    I demand he be fired.No more trapping & hunting whether it is s wolf or coyote.The majority of Americans love wildlife.

  4. avatar Billy Lockard says:

    The very program to save endangered species is most often the biggest threat to them. Very sad story.

  5. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Very sad to read this, especially about the other shooting incident. If they don’t enforce their own laws, I don’t know what to say. But, they make the rules don’t they (or not, as the case maybe). Terrible!

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      It’s sad when gov’t agencies are so beholden to our elected officials. If Senator Longhorn Foghorn says he’ll cut your budget if a certain constituent isn’t happy, there’s not a whole lot you can do. 🙁

  6. avatar JEFF E says:

    and WS will collectively raise there middle finger because they are fully protected by the livestock industry and the politicians bought and paid for by the livestock industry. until that dynamic changes, good luck

    • avatar ramses09 says:

      Exactly Jeff, you hit it right on the nail. They are beholden to the livestock industry, I would go so far to say they also get lobbied by hunting groups also – Safari Club, NRA, etc.

      • avatar Kathleen says:

        Wildlife Services is a USDA APHIS program–Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service. APHIS was created specifically to protect agricultural concerns, so WS is beholden to the livestock industry only insofar as that is its mission. It was the late 1800s when these agencies took root; sadly, they haven’t evolved much beyond 19th Century philosophy and practices where predators and other animals are concerned.

        Today is International Animal Rights Day–a time for some, perhaps, to reflect on what it means to be a nonhuman animal in a world where speciesism maintains the status quo. The wolf and the cattle are on the same team–both persecuted thanks to human machinations.

  7. avatar Marc Bedner says:

    The case is not closed, as US Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of legalizing this activity by (the allegedly different) USDA Wildlife Services. The proposed revised version of the USFWS Mexican wolf recovery program includes the following provision: “We [USFWS] added language to the provisions for allowable take for authorized personnel to clarify that Wildlife Services personnel will not be in violation of the Act or this rule for take of a Mexican wolf that occurs while conducting official duties.”

  8. avatar Julia Milford says:

    Why would you kill that wolf. Becauses he looked at you wrong. Shame on you. You are suppose to be protecting these animals.

  9. avatar Larry says:

    The first red flag that went up for me without even reading the inv reports is: Why is a WS Agent permitted to trap on his own time? What an outlandish conflict of interest if there ever was one! This is not even an “appearance of conflict” it is. This conduct is ripe with setting a WS Agent up with the ability to skim from the government hides and also if his/her traps are in the area, “What’s a little check on gov time since I’m out here anyway”? Where are the IG’s in this outfit.

    The McKittrick Policy is nothing more than a Republican lobbied up policy set a little more than 10 years ago and has no place in the U.S. justice system. The courts have consistently held that failure to properly identify the target was no defense for the shooter. DOJ has undermined the FWS laws and regs that Congress enacted. FWS Agents are left to try to get the local AUSA to charge under “transport” if the shooter moved the carcass and later claimed misidentification.

    • avatar Demarcated Landscapes says:

      Guy runs a hunting guide service, too.
      http://www.globaloutfitters.com/Pages/FeaturePages/Directions.asp?CompanyLocationID=7595
      Another conflict of interest, no?

      • avatar Demarcated Landscapes says:

        http://www.demarcatedlandscapes.com/2013/04/the-killers-at-wildlife-disservices.html

        >snip
        And, worth noting, according to the interdiction team notes posted online, the federal agent to call in New Mexico for suspected wolf depredations is Bill Nelson, 575-533-6252. Bill Nelson (same phone number) also runs a hunting guide service out of Reserve, New Mexico. He’s the “wolf damage specialist” with the primary area of New Mexico. Seems like a Catron County hunting guide and Wildlife Services agent would definitely know a wolf from a coyote, so it probably wasn’t him.

        Right? <

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      DOJ has undermined the FWS laws and regs that Congress enacted.

      I was shocked to read this.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      “The first red flag that went up for me without even reading the inv reports is: Why is a WS Agent permitted to trap on his own time? What an outlandish conflict of interest if there ever was one! ”

      Exactly Larry
      unreal actually
      conflict of interest x 10

    • avatar Maska says:

      The McKittrick policy emerged during the waning years of the Clinton administration. In any case, it has been slavishly followed by the Obama administration. It is by no means a Republican policy.

      • avatar Larry says:

        As we all know, the party of the president doesn’t preclude the injection of influences of the opposing party. The removal of the wolf from the ESA listing?

        • avatar WM says:

          Larry,

          The DOJ under the leadership of the US Attorney General (appointed by the President) is more autonomous than most Executive Branch agencies, including autonomy from the Legislative Branch.

          I think DOJ concluded they had more important things to prosecute than wolf killings. The sad part is that a prosecution policy grounded in wolf politics has a much broader implication which diffuses and prostitutes enforcement of the ESA for other protected species killings – the “knowingly” element given in jury instructions.

          Here is a pretty good law review article on how the McKittrick policy evolved after the successful prosecution of a wolf killer by that name, and why…as well as a critique of its flawed logic, which defies well established legal precedent before it. This is one of those “duh,” moments in perverse legal scholarship:

          http://law.lclark.edu/live/files/11135-172-newcomer

  10. avatar Julie Long Gallegos says:

    Shut that damn agency down NOW.

  11. avatar bill smith says:

    the idiot should be fired. hobby trapper, what an thug

  12. avatar aq says:

    what has happened here about the tragic death of a endangered animal is just plain murder. When is there going to be punishment probably never this organization does not care about wildlife in any way shape or form. I hope this person loses his job after what he has done. Wildlife Services ha! what a joke

  13. avatar ramses09 says:

    Really, trapping on government time?? Wildlife Services is a joke & should be shut down. God only knows how many critters they have killed.??? from why I have read & heard from folks who know ….. you talk about an agency that runs amok, this is that agency. If you haven’t watched “Exposed” you should – it gets right down to the nitty gritty of the agency.
    http://www.predatordefense.org/index.htm

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “Really, trapping on government time?? Wildlife Services is a joke & should be shut down.”

      Do you know he was trapping for his own benefit? I assumed that he had coyote sets on a ranch and he was checking them on his day off.

      Wildlife Services requires that traps be checked daily, and if an agent can’t arrange for a colleague to cover for him, he must either do it himself or pull the sets and replace them when he returns to work.

      If you were successful in shutting down the agency, who do you see filling the role of the field agents?

  14. avatar Greta Anderson says:

    I hope people pay attention to the fact that the calf had been injured the day before AND LEFT IN THE PASTURE 1/2 MILE FROM THE RANCH HOUSE after the ranch hand had seen wolves in the area on the same day. Surprise, surprise the wolves got the calf. This is irresponsible animal husbandry, almost as if the livestock are being sacrificed in the name of removing predators.

  15. avatar WM says:

    Sad to lose the wolf. Hope it doesn’t happen again under these types of circumstances. You can belly ache all you want about this matter, but it won’t change things.

    There are a number of reasons why there won’t be a prosecution here. There was no cover-up; in fact the investigation was pretty darned thorough, from start to finish, including the vet autopsy. The employee/shooter showed remorse, and mostly did the right things after the unfortunate incident.

    This apparently, as best as can be determined after the fact, involved a young wolf (sort of looked like a coyote at 250-400 yards) that had just killed a calf. The extensive investigation, it appears, was pretty darned expensive, in and of itself. The cost of prosecuting this case would be substantial, including providing a defense (also borne by the US Government) because this guy was acting in course and scope of employment, would also be expensive. Importantly there would be no “successful” prosecution because of the DOJ memo invoking the McKittrick “I thought it was a coyote” policy (an entirely different issue that is unfortunate but in place). This matter was reviewed by several Assistant US Attorneys, including, no doubt applicability of the McKittrick policy, and a final decision made by the Assistant US Attorney for NM, likely after consulting with higher ups in Washington DC. Maybe some local political motivation not to do it, but the policy that prevents prosecution would have to be changed. That is not likely to happen, since it has been in place over a decade.

    Not a popular view on this forum, I know, but I am glad my taxpayer money was not wasted prosecuting this guy. Nothing to be gained by it. That doesn’t mean he won’t get a reprimand in his file after APHIS/WS gets done with him.

    • avatar WM says:

      Sorry for the bad grammar and redundancy. I banged this out while multi-tasking something else.

    • avatar Larry says:

      The McKittrick policy is a tremendous hurdle to overcome. The ESA already has the element of “knowingly” in it and the courts have held that knowingly is understanding that the act of raising a gun, pointing at an animal and pulling the trigger is knowingly. The person knows that act will or intentionally should kill something. To raise the bar to a level that isn’t in the act is hard to justify. Like saying a drug dealer has to have his own testing lab and have tested the quantity he is selling for him to be prosecuted. This allows all shooters to walk away provided they meet other requirements such as mandatory reporting. Very difficult to prosecute grizzly cases also for the same reason. The Lacey Act provides prohibitions against transport of unlawfully killed wildlife and is used in some narrow situations like this if the shooter moves the carcass. But that is far from ideal.

      As far as costs of prosecution being a factor that is never brought up as a reason to decline prosecution. It may prohibit some investigative actions such as interviewing witnesses where extensive travel is concerned but I have never known prosecution costs to be weighed. Priority is another matter and often wildlife cases are at the bottom of the pile, literally.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      The situation here though is similar to NC. Citizens have a right to demand that the state wildlife agencies and their rules that allow coyote hunting in areas where Mexican and red wolves reside conflict with ESA mandates. There is too many opportunities for “accidents” whether truly accidental or not. with populations under 100 in each population each wolf killed is another nail in the coffin.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        corrected Paragraph….
        The situation here though is similar to NC. Citizens have a right to demand that coyote hunting is ended by the state wildlife agencies in areas where Mexican and red wolves reside. Hunting coyotes is demonstrably impacting red and Mexican wolf populations and conflicts with ESA mandates. There are too many opportunities for “accidents” whether truly accidental or not. with populations under 100 in each population each wolf killed is another nail in the coffin.

  16. avatar Patricia says:

    “A calf.” ONE calf. Ranchers need to take the loss, or ranch with dogs and fences. This is a travesty. In the meantime, the USDA needs to be reorganized. Mostly, we as a people need to reduce our demand for beef and buy only from sustainable ranchers who ranch responsibly, and who consider their impact on the environment and other living things — not only what’s good for themselves and their cattle. Unfortunately, this will never happen, so our native species, once again, face elimination. I would not want to say I was ever a part of that. What a crappy legacy these people are leaving.

  17. avatar Rick says:

    Wildlife Services is apparently loaded with employees who are nothing less than “serial killers” of animals. Psychological profiling is needed to weed out the ill employees from the top down.

  18. avatar stephanie says:

    REALLY? wth–most live stock kills are due to mountain lions or bears.. These farmers let their cattle roam free on government land.. Africa is using a certain type of dogs to keep lions & cheatas away from there free roaming live stock–with great success I might add– So lets see— a poor country can do better wildlife management then the USA? there is some thing wrong with this whole picture!

    • avatar Larry says:

      Stephanie,
      There IS something wrong in this country and it is that all too often the tail wags the dog. The person wealthy enough to ‘own’ grazing rights thinks they own the ground. This quasi ownership spawns a greed and selfishness that can be compared to some of the most outrageous dictators history has known. They not only feel ownership of the land they demand the rest of us subservients caress their cows and sheep and bow down to them as they claim they are saving us from starvation. They believe they are doing something of a humanitarian gesture and in return we must pay up for protection of these idols of worship. The worst payments they demand are the lives of those spp that inhabit a natural ecosystem that often is forever destroyed by these self imposed kings.

  19. avatar Corrine Nugent-Hayes says:

    ‘I Want To Know From Someone Higher Up In Power, How Many Killed, Mangled, Tortured Wolves Will It Take Before The Number Of Wolves Dead Or Severely Hurt Will Match The Funds That Seem To Be Lining Your Pockets. I Would Really Like An Answer So I Don’t Keep Wasting My Breathe Asking You? 100, 1000, 10,000 , 100,000 , 1,000,000, Or Will Entire Eradication Please You More’!!! When All Wolves Are Either Dead Or No Longer Strong Enough To Be A Viable Member Of Their Pack, Our Ecological System Will Begin To Shatter. Each day, OUR EARTH MOTHER WEEPS. Whats Next, All The Buffalo’s & Bald Eagles ( Btw, wind farms have now received 30 yrs lee way if they kill Endangered Bald Eagles ). These Atrocities By Mankind Are Not Humane, But Inhumane’…

    • avatar JB says:

      Corrine:

      Was there a question in there? If so, to whom was your question addressed? If you’re speaking of political contributions (when you mention ‘Funds That Seem To Be Lining Your Pockets’), then I would think the the answer is obvious: there is far more money in politics than there are wolves in all of the world. Perhaps this was just an ill-conceived rant? If so, enough said. But a suggestion: Your advocacy might be more effective if you took some time to effectively communicate and detail your complaints.

      • avatar jerry says:

        jb the slaughter of wolves is an emotional issue your energy would be better served criticing those who killing these animals

        • avatar SaveBears says:

          Actually Jerry,

          JB is one of the most knowledgeable posters on this page when it comes to wildlife issues, both causation as well as solutions. You might be better off researching your target of criticism in the future before you open your mouth and insert your foot.

        • avatar JB says:

          Thanks, SB. Jerry, I agree that the issue is quite emotional for some; in fact, that is one of the problems. People who are governed by their emotions are easily dismissed by decision makers as ‘irrational’. As an apparent advocate for wolves, Corrine would be more effective if she spent some time researching the issue thereby enabling her to make pointed criticisms of the policies she dislikes.

          Likewise people commenting that the USFWS or USDA Wildlife Services should be dissolved also hurt your cause by making everyone look ignorant. USDOI-FWS is not involved in animal control; rather, they run federal wildlife refuges and endangered species recovery programs. And USDA-Wildlife Services does a lot more than predator control; most of what they do (e.g., removal of birds and other wildlife at airports, control of zoonotic diseases, removal of exotic pests) are things that Americans support. Advocates would by wise to understand these things, and tailor their arguments to the policies they dislike, rather than simply calling for these agencies dissolution.

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            Americans don’t support theses agencies once they are made aware of some of the methods they use, and how much autonomy they have. For example, many New Yorkers don’t want lethal bird control such as poisonings, but of course their concerns are dismissed.

            • avatar JB says:

              “Americans don’t support theses agencies once they are made aware of some of the methods they use.”

              You’ve made the very same error (i.e., guilt by association) that I just mentioned above. Let me ask you a pointed question, Ida: where should the guilt by association stop? Wildlife Services is part of APHIS which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is part of the Executive branch of the federal government. Who all should get punished for the the actions of one guy who stupidly confused a wolf for a coyote? Should we disband all of Wildlife Services (including the people who work on zoonotic disease prevention)? What about the folks who actually study non-lethal methods? Hell yeah! Let’s can them too! Maybe we should get rid of the whole U.S. Department of Agriculture? (Hell, who needs irradiated meat anyway?) Ye haw!!

              You see my point. You guys are hyper-focused on one program that is carried out by a small part of a federal agency that does a lot of good things. Focus your ire on the program, as opposed to the agency, and you’ll find your arguments are more well received.

              • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                This isn’t the first incidence of such treatment of wildlife. It’s one of many. We would certainly expect a professional part of whose job it is to protect the endangered species to know the difference between a Mexican wolf and a coyote. Falling back on that excuse doesn’t give Americans much confidence in the agency. Zoonotic disease prevention is a lot more complicated, and will be with a changing climate.

                Whether or not the agency should be disbanded I don’t know, but certainly the audit and review is in order, and methods for dealing with wild life brought up to modern times and the realities of today’s world, not using WWI poisons and to promote ranching as we also did in that era.

                I personally am not focused on this agency alone. There’s a whole lot of problems with the way our country views wilderness and wildlife. For example, I don’t know how roughly 600 grizzly bears is considered recovered enough to start hunting them. As for speaking up too much, it’s a good thing some of us weren’t promoting that in the ’70s. We might still have apartheid and political protesters languishing in prisons.

              • avatar JB says:

                “This isn’t the first incidence of such treatment of wildlife. It’s one of many.”

                Agreed. Which bolsters an argument focused on the program; but it is irrelevant when it comes to evaluating parts of the agency that do other things (again, my original point).

                “Zoonotic disease prevention is a lot more complicated, and will be with a changing climate.”

                Yes, zoonotic disease prevention is a complicated, and it will be increasingly complicated in a changing climate–two very good reasons to support an agency that is trying to prevent the spread of such diseases.

                “Whether or not the agency should be disbanded I don’t know, but certainly the audit and review is in order…”

                So do you think the actions of the whole agency should be reviewed? So they guys in Fort Collins who are running research should have to drop everything to go through an audit? Personally, I would think a more effective and efficient use of everyone’s time would be to target the offending program for audit?

                “As for speaking up too much, it’s a good thing some of us weren’t promoting that in the ’70s…”

                Who said you were speaking up too much? Speak out all you like! I’m just trying to help you say things in a way that decision-makers will hear. 😉

    • avatar Gail says:

      Yes, Corinne, and “incidental take” permits will now be issued to yet another wind turbine developer for the deaths of endangered bats.

  20. avatar Eva van Loon says:

    The problem with bringing criminal instead of civil law to bear on these outrageous acts is that the burden of proof is so high in criminal law. The beyond-a-reasonable-doubt b.o.p. is not something anyone concerned with the Rule of Law wants to water down, but it means that the slightest doubt w.r.t. criminal intent is enough to defeat conviction. Instead of spending tons of taxpayer money on criminal prosecutions, it would be nice to go after fining these miscreants under civil law and whack ’em where it hurts most–in the wallet.

  21. avatar M. Smith says:

    Bill Nelson, the Wildlife Service (WS) employee responsible for the death of San Mateo F1288 was the WS Specialist in Catron County, New Mexico. He retired from WS in late November and has moved to Texas. He retired from WS with his full government retirement. WS is currently in the process of hiring Nelson’s replacement. Hopefully Nelson’s replacement will be more ethical. Per my recollection, Nelson had been the WS Specialist in Catron County for 8-10 years and has trapped and handled many Mexican wolves and coyotes during that time. He absolutely knew the difference between to two species. Nelson was in cahoots with Catron County supervisor Bucky Allred and Catron County wolf interaction investigator Jess Carey since he got the WS job. I’m sure Allred and Carey will encourage the new WS specialist to side with them on livestock depredation investigations (confirmed wolf depredations determinations). That’s how they operate in Catron County. Then both agencies (Catron County and WS)pressure US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove (lethal or non-lethal) wolves. A couple of weeks ago FWS removed (non-lethal) a member of the Fox Mountain Pack, for supposed livestock depredation. The 3 year old wild born male wolf will spend the remainder of his life in a chainlink fence. When the total wild mexican wolf population is only 75, with 3 breeding pairs, every wolf on the landscape is vital.

    • avatar Greta Anderson says:

      Good riddance, Bill Nelson. So, who’s leading the investigations while the hiring process takes place? Thanks for any info, here or at my work email.

    • avatar Gail Keller says:

      Bill Nelson is a personal friend of mine,an expert,experienced WS trapper and I can assure you that he is one of the best friends,that the Mexican Wolves have in Catron County. Unfortunately,he is a human being and is not perfect,he made a mistake and he regrets it. He has given me much valuable advice on trapping,in Catron County,in an effort to avoid any conflicts with the Mexican Wolf and he does the same for other trappers,also. He provides a valuable service to both the citizens of Catron County,with,a very successful career,there,as a nuisance trapper,dividing his time between 24/7 coyote control and doing work with USFWS,in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program. It is not an easy job and this is the first and only time,that he has made such a mistake. I only hope that,his WS replacement,is half the professional,that Bill Nelson was,it will not be easy to find such a man willing to do the dedicated,difficult job,that Bill Nelson did for so many years. Good luck,my friend and enjoy your retirement,you have earned it.

  22. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Thanks JB –

    I know my posts tend to be a bit heated, but I do appreciate your comments. Yes, I meant to say the offending agency.

  23. avatar Garry Rogers says:

    I’m not convinced any coyote needed killing in the reported incident.

  24. avatar John Wilson says:

    I live on the eastern edge of the Blue Range collection of packs and lone wolves. My nearest neighbor was m1277 a radio collared individual who drifted around the northern end of the San Mateo Mountains 10-20 miles SSW of Magdalena, NM. In December 2013 he was reported dead due to gunshot. I mourn his loss. The landscape is less without him.

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‎"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."

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