Endangered Species Updates
November 13, 2006
MEXICAN WOLF REINTRODUCTION PROJECT NEWS. Monthly Status Report: October 1 – 31, 2006
The following is a summary of Mexican wolf reintroduction project activities in Arizona on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) and in New Mexico on the Gila National Forest (GNF), collectively known as the Blue Range Wolf Reintroduction Area (BRWRA). Additional information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at 1-888-459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site at http://mexicanwolf.fws.gov. Past updates may also be viewed on either Web site, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting http://www.azgfd.gov/signup. This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The reintroduction project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services (USDA-WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR). Other entities cooperate through the Adaptive Management Work Group that meets quarterly in Arizona and/or New Mexico, including private individuals, organizations and tribes.To view the wolf distribution map, which contains the most recent three months of wolf aerial locations, please visit http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf. Under “Mexican Wolf Conservation and Management,” scroll down to the links under “Distribution.”Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at 1-888-459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD’s 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at 1-800-352-0700.Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks the history of all known Mexican wolves. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 18 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 18 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate alpha wolves.Definitions: For the purposes of the Monthly Update, a “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established home range. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars sometimes form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are reasonably resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.CURRENT POPULATION STATUSAs of the end of October, the collared population consisted of 28* wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among nine packs and four single wolves.* See the Bluestem, Hawks Nest and Rim packs, single M973 and M1044 on the FAIR, Arizona, below for more detailed information.SEASONAL NEWS

The IFT has confirmed wild born pups in the Bluestem, Rim and San Mateo packs in Arizona; in the Aspen, Luna and Saddle packs in New Mexico; and suspect pups with the Middle Fork pack in New Mexico.


Bluestem Pack (collared AF521, M990, m991, m1041 and f1042)
Throughout October, the IFT located the pack both within and outside their traditional home range on the FAIR and ASNF, with M990 and m991 continuing to exhibit dispersal behavior. On the October 2 aerial telemetry flight, the IFT located AF521 and m991 on the ASNF, and located M990 approximately five miles to the northeast, also on the ASNF. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT located the pack northeast of their traditional home range in the north-central portion of the primary recovery area. On October 13, the IFT captured two pups associated with AF521 and assigned them studbook numbers m1041 and f1042. The pups were in excellent condition, and the IFT fitted them with radio collars and released them on site. On the October 16 telemetry flight, the IFT located AF521, m1041 and f1042 together in the central portion of their home range on the ASNF. The IFT located M990 and M991 separate from the rest of the pack and each other, with M990 being in the far northwest portion of the BRWRA and m991 north of the pack’s traditional home range on the ASNF. On the October 31 telemetry flight, the IFT located AM521, m991, m1041 and f1042 more than 20 miles northeast of their home range in New Mexico in what is considered San Mateo pack territory.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM619 and AF486 with a non-functional collar)
Alpha M619 continued to use its traditional home range east of the Big Lake area on the ASNF. The IFT could not determine the presence of nor obtain a visual confirmation of AF486 due to a failed radio collar.

Meridian Pack (collared AM806 and f1028)
On September 24, during the course of intensive monitoring, the IFT discovered AF838 dead approximately seven miles south of Alpine, Arizona, on the ASNF. The circumstances of the wolf’s death are currently under investigation. Final necropsy results are pending from the USFWS’s National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, which will determine the cause of death. Individuals with information that they believe may be helpful regarding the wolf’s death should contact USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at 480-967-7900 or call the Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.

On the October 11 and 16 telemetry flights, the IFT located AM806 near the town of Luna, New Mexico, 17 miles northeast of its release site in Arizona. The IFT observed AM806 alone the following day and hazed it from the area. AM806 remained in the Luna area until October 17. On October 19, the IFT visually confirmed f1028 alone in the area of the Meridian pack release site in Arizona; however, on October 24, the IFT observed AM806 back in Arizona with f1028. On October 25, the IFT captured both AM806 and f1028, fitting f1028 with a radio collar and replacing the radio collar on AM806. On October 29, the IFT observed both AM806 and f1028 together in the vicinity of their release site near Middle Mountain.

Rim Pack (collared AF858, AM992 and m1043)
Throughout October, the IFT located the Rim pack within its traditional home range in the central portion of the ASNF. On October 1, the IFT observed three wolves with this pack. On October 22, the IFT captured a pup, assigned it studbook number m1043, fitted it with a radio collar and released it on site. On the October 30 telemetry flight, the IFT located the alpha pair on the San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), approximately three miles west of the ASNF border, and they located m1043 13 miles to the northeast on the ASNF.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF903, m927 and AM796 with a non-functional collar)
During October, the San Mateo pack continued to use areas east of Escudilla Mountain near the Arizona/New Mexico border. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located the pack in the northwest portion of the GNF in New Mexico, but they had returned near the Arizona/New Mexico border by the October 11 telemetry flight. The IFT found the pack over 15 miles east of the New Mexico border on the October 16 telemetry flight; however, they had again returned to Arizona by the October 23 flight.

M973 (collared)
During early October, the IFT continued to document M973 in and around Greer, Arizona. On October 11, consistent with the nuisance behavior protocol in Standard Operating Procedure 13, the IFT captured M973 in the northwest portion of the BRWRA, and transported it to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico. Male 973 remains eligible for future translocation.


M1044 (collared)
On October 26, the IFT captured a male yearling on the FAIR and assigned it studbook number M1044. The IFT fitted the wolf with a radio collar and released it on site. During the October 31 telemetry flight, the IFT observed four uncollared wolves with M1044.


Aspen Pack (collared AF667, m1038, m1039, f1040 and uncollared AM512)
Throughout October, the IFT located the Aspen pack in the eastern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Luna Pack (collared AM583, m925 and uncollared AF562)
Alpha M583 and yearling m925 remained within their traditional home range in the central portion of the GNF and northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Middle Fork Pack (collared AF861 and AM871)
Throughout October, the IFT located AF861 and AM871 together in the central portion of the Gila Wilderness. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 with the Middle Fork pack.

Saddle Pack (collared AF797, AM732 and m1007)
During October, the Saddle pack continued to use its traditional home range in the southern portion of the GNF. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located m1007 north of the Saddle pack and within three miles of f924. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT observed AM732, based on characteristic coloration.

M859 (collared)
On the October 11 and 16 aerial telemetry flights, the IFT located M859 with f924 in the GNF, but found the two separated by approximately 10 miles on the October 23 telemetry flight and by over 20 miles on the October 30 flight.

f923 (collared)
On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 with the Middle Fork pack in the central portion of the Gila Wilderness. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 near Reserve, New Mexico. By the October 30 telemetry flight, f923 had traveled more than 30 miles to the northwest. On October 18, the IFT received a report that f923 had been caught in a non-project foothold trap. The IFT was unable to obtain a sighting of f923 or locate the trap; however, two days later, the IFT observed f923 without the trap.

f924 (collared)
On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f924 north of the Saddle pack and within three miles of m1007. On the October 11 and 16 telemetry flights, the IFT located f924 with M859 in the northern portion of the GNF, but found the two separated by approximately 10 miles on the October 23 telemetry flight and by over 20 miles on the October 30 flight.


On September 30, the IFT investigated a cow carcass in Catron County, New Mexico. The IFT investigation determined the kill to be a possible wolf depredation, but there were no wolves with radio collars in the area or any wolf sign discovered.

On October 11, the IFT investigated a dead horse in Apache County, Arizona. The IFT investigation determined that the horse died from a lightening strike.


On October 25, Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility personnel moved m1019 from the management facility at Sevilleta to the Rio Grande Zoo vet clinic for further veterinary care.


On October 6, Shawna Nelson, in cooperation with USFS personnel, provided four informal presentations to 84 first grade students from Coronado Elementary School in St. Johns as part of their annual field trip to Alpine, Arizona.

On October 6, Saleen Richter gave a presentation to 45 people at the “Natural History of the Gila: A Southwestern New Mexico Symposium” conference at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico.

On October 14, Maggie Dwire gave a presentation to 50 people at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge open house in New Mexico.

On October 11, Shawna Nelson and Shawn Farry provided a presentation to 16 community members of Greer, Arizona.

On October 11, Dan Groebner provided a presentation on the history of wolves in Arizona to 250 third grade students from Show Low Elementary School at the Show Low Historical Museum.

On October 14, Shawn Farry and John Oakleaf provided a presentation and led a field trip for 20 ASU and UofA students near Alpine, Arizona.

On October 14 and 15, Shawna Nelson, Krista Beazley and Dan Groebner worked an information booth for the Woodland Wild Country Expo in Pinetop, Arizona. Approximately 400 people attended this inaugural wildlife event.

On October 20, the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) held a meeting in Clifton, Arizona. Agenda topics included translocations and new releases of Mexican wolves in 2006, depredation and wolf management activities and the 5-Year Review of the reintroduction project: the Adaptive Management Oversight Committee’s approach to acting on the 37 recommendations from the 5-Year Review.

On October 21, Melissa Woolf gave an educational presentation at the Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

On October 21, Laura Kelly provided a telemetry demonstration to 120 people at the California Wolf Center as part of Wolf Awareness Week in Julian, California.

On October 27, Shawna Nelson provided a presentation for 14 participants of Wild by Nature, a wildlife watching field trip, and National Park Service personnel in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico. The following day, she provided a telemetry demonstration and assisted participants in locating and identifying animal tracks.


Nicole Heywood left the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project October 20.

Brynn Nelson, a USFWS volunteer, left the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project October 31.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 and the Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican gray wolves. A variety of public interest groups are offering an additional $35,000, for a total reward amount of up to $46,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents in Mesa, AZ, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, AZ, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, NM, at (505) 346-7828; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000 and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

10 Responses to Mexican wolf restoration update for October

  1. Alan Gregory says:

    People traveling to New Mexico would enjoy a visit to the headquarters of the Sevilleta NWR south of Albuquerque. The 220,000-acre refuge — set aside specifically for ecological research — also has the central captive breeding facility for Mexican gray wolves. There’s a fine mounted specimen inside the visitor center. The refuge staffer I talked with there a few weeks ago was very helpful in answering questions. Also noteworthy: David E. Brown’s “The Wolf in the Southwest: The Making of an Endangered Species” is back in print (High Lonesome Books, Silver City, N.M.). I purchased a copy at Bosque del Apache NWR in N.M. for 15 bucks.

  2. Jean Ossorio says:

    The Sevilleta NWR is one of three “pre-release” facilities for the Mexican wolf. The other two are Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch, still farther south in New Mexico near the little town of Hillsboro, and Wolf Haven, in Tenino, WA.

    I would reserve the title of “central captive breeding facility” for Mexican wolves for the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, in Eureka, MO–not far from St. Louis. The very first captive conceived litter following the capture of a handful of lobos in Mexico in the late 1970’s was born at Wild Canid in 1981. Since then, the facility has bred more Mexican gray wolves than any other facility in the captive breeding program.

    Every single Mexican wolf now in the wild in NM and AZ traces at least a part of its ancestry to WCSRC (or Wild Canid, as it it known in the recovery program). Those interested in checking on this remarkable facility, which also breeds other endangered canids including red wolves, South American maned wolves, swift foxes, and African wild dogs, may do so by going to the following site:


    The web site is not updated very often, partly, I suspect, because the folks at Wild Canid are so busy with all their charges! In addition to breeding lobos the “ordinary way,” Wild Canid has been a pioneer in the non-surgical artificial insemination of Mexican wolves, a technique which can serve to lessen the necessity for shipping lobos around the country in order to make genetically advantageous pairings.

    None of the above is intended to downplay the importance of Sevilleta (or Ladder Ranch, for that matter). They also play an extremely important role in acclimating animals prior to release in the wild, in taking wolves recaptured for various reasons and housing them until they are either re-released or sent to another captive breeding facility, and generally supporting the program in the wild.

    We in the Southwest are keeping our fingers crossed that numerous pups from several large litters born in 2006 survive, pair up, and breed in the wild themselves. The program has been beset by many problems over the years. Projections in the Final EIS suggested that the goal of 100 wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) should have been reached by now, along with 18 breeding pairs. Last year, only five breeding pairs could be verified, along with 35-49 total estimated wolves.

    Among the reasons for the shortfall are numerous removals (recapture or lethal control) for livestock depredations and recapture of wolves that set up territories outside the invisible, odorless boundaries of the recovery area, set in the original non-essential, experimental rule governing the program. Although scientists have recommended rule change to remove these politically motivated boundaries since 2001, they remain in effect.

  3. Jean,

    Thanks for the added info and the great update!

  4. dcookie says:

    So what can be done about this bizzzzarre boundary condition?

  5. Jean Ossorio says:

    I’m literally heading out the door for a trip to the recovery area, but the short answer is the usual one in conservation matters: endless pressure, endlessly applied. The Five Year Review of the reintroduction recommended pretty much the same thing as the 2001 Three Year Review with regard to boundaries. The problem is that the agencies have been holding endless meetings, stakeholder groups, and similar time-consuming “process,” which do little to further the necessary rule changes.

    Because the problem is a poltical one, wolf supporters in the Southwest are guardedly hopeful that changes in the political climate at both the national and regional levels may make the agencies a little more likely to move in the right direction. The pace of progress is glacial, however. Even if the USFWS proposes rule change tomorrow, the approval process under NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) will take years, not months.

  6. Jerry Black says:

    Read today that M859 is to be terminated for cow lilling in the Gila Wilderness. Anyone know if this depradation was actually on public land? Also, are ranchers in this area using any preventive techniques? Thanks

  7. Jean Ossorio says:

    Although I have no “insider knowledge” regarding exactly where this depredation took place, M859 had been frequenting an area northeast of the Gila Wilderness where there is a “checkerboard” (more or less) of sections of private, state, and BLM land adjacent to a larger chunk of national forest. The actual depredation could have taken place on either federal, state, or private land.

    For the approximate location where M859 has been found in the past six weeks or so, check out the wolf location map for October, on the AZGFD web site.


    Scroll down to “Distribution” to find the link to a color map (PDF) covering locations for August through October.

    As for preventive techniques, I’m not sure whether the ranchers in the immediate area have been availing themselves of proactive assistance from Defenders of Wildlife or applying any special preventive techniques themselves. There have been previous depredations in this general area over the years. It is an area of open grasslands as well as some rugged mountains and canyons. Quite a few cattle have been present whenever we have visited the area.

    The Five Year Review of the project includes a map showing source and sink areas for Mexican wolves. Two out of four sink areas for “cattle related removals” are in the general area frequented by M859. (Map, page TC-39, Five Year Review.)

    You can download the Five Year Review from the USFWS Mexican wolf website at
    (It is a huge document!)

  8. Jean Ossorio says:

    According to an article by Tania Soussan in the print edition of today’s Albuquerque Journal, government officials killed M859 on Wednesday.

    His death brings to eight the number of endangered Mexican wolves killed by project personnel for livestock conflicts. Five wolves have been lethally removed in 2006 alone, including Hon Dah AM578, Saddle M864, Nantac AM993, Nantac AF873, and now, lone wolf M859. F924, who had been traveling with M859, was trapped and removed earlier this month as a result of her involvement in the recent depredations.

    In addition, a total of eight wolves from the Hon Dah pack, including the alpha female, one yearling, and six pups died in captivity shortly after being recaptured as a result of conflicts with cattle. One additional Hon Dah pup remained in the wild, but is presumed dead because it was too young to survive on its own when its mother was captured. Another Hon Dah yearling was also captured and remains in captivity.

    The grand total of endangered lobos removed, either lethally or by trapping, for livestock conflicts this year is up to at least 19. In addition, one wolf was killed by a vehicle (F487), another was found dead of human related causes that are still under investigation (Meridian AF838), and three more died from causes that are currently unknown (Meridian pup m1029, Bluestem AM507, and San Mateo M927).

    At the beginning of 2006 the estimated population of Mexican wolves in the wild was between 35 and 49 animals. Clearly, the loss of 24 animals represents yet another major setback in this beleaguered reintroduction program.

    Michael Robinson, in a press release posted on the web site of the Center for Biological Diversity, points out that M859 scavenged on livestock in early 2005, prior to killing cattle himself. In the 2001 Three Year Review report on the project, independent scientists recommended that public lands ranchers take some responsibility for carcass removal or treatment when cattle die of causes other than wolf depredation, in order to prevent habituation of wolves to eating and killing cows. No action has been taken on that recommendation.


  9. Jean Ossorio says:

    According to an article by Tania Soussan in today’s print edition of the Albuquerque Journal, M859 was killed by government personnel on Wednesday. His death brings the total number of Mexican wolves shot by the government in predator control actions to eight, with five of them occurring this year.

    A press release from Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity indicates that M859 scavenged on livestock he didn’t kill in early 2005, before killing any cattle himself.

  10. robert says:

    The Current wolf report from the ADGF gives us promising news. As of this month the wolf population is just over 60 in the wild. Thanks to the survival of several wolf pups born in the wild the paks are getting bigger and we are getting more true wild wolves. As I like to imphasize, slow is better than fast. With time the project will get bigger and better. Let’s be patient and focus on this than all the negative stuff. We already know how the ranchers and others feel about these issue, lets move on. I myself, personally get tired of hearing about this stuff and I try to focus on the positive. Anyways that’s me, fill free to expess youselves. Headed up to Alpine and to the Gila hope to get some sitings. Thanks to the ADGF for the great work they are doing!


November 2006


‎"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