Another Mexican wolf alpha to bite the dust

By Jean Ossorio.

The alpha male of the San Mateo pack–one of the handful of breeding pairs (six or seven, depending on how you interpret the definition in the Final Rule) at the end of 2006–has been slapped with a removal order by the USFWS for a third livestock depredation within 365 days. The rest of the pack (an alpha female and a couple of last year’s pups) are apparently not under the same order.

This pack formed in 2004 when a wild-born Cienega disperser (AM796) paired up with an uncollared female (AF903, who turned out to be a wild born disperser from the defunct Gapiwi Pack) in the San Mateo mountains, outside the recovery area in New Mexico. They were caught (although pups presumably born before they were captured were never found) and released back in the recovery area in New Mexico, only to vote with their feet and head right back to their old haunts. A second translocation put them in the Arizona section of the recovery area. The past couple of years they have made the east side of Escudilla Mountain in Arizona and adjacent New Mexico their home territory. A yearling from this pack died in November 2006, apparently killed by members of the Bluestem pack encroaching on San Mateo territory.
See the FWS news release at-







  1. Alan Gregory Avatar

    This reintroduction is doomed as long as the wolves are confined to a box delineated by a political, not ecological, boundary line.

  2. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    The Mexican wolf reintroduction program has been operating since October 10, 2005, under the draconian SOP 13.0 on Control of Mexican Wolves. One of the provisions of that Standard Operating Procedure is the assessment of “strikes” for each confirmed depredation. If a wolf gets three “strikes” in a 365 day period, it is slated for either trapping and permanent removal from the wild or for “lethal control.”

    On Saturday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the FWS had decided to go ahead and kill San Mateo AM796, rather than continue to try to trap him, due to bad weather and snow in the recovery area.

    Examination of the Mexican wolf project monthly updates reveals the following, in the March 1-31 update, describing the first of the three “strikes” assessed on AM796 in the past 365 days:

    “On March 15, during the winter study telemetry flight, the IFT observed the San Mateo Pack near a dead calf. They investigated and found the remains of the calf, along with an uninjured cow stuck in a nearby cattle guard. IFT personnel and a local resident freed the cow. The location of the incident was on an inactive allotment. A WS investigation confirmed the calf to be a wolf depredation.”

    It turns out that the first of the three depredations (“strikes”) charged to this wolf involved the killing of a calf that was not supposed to be where the wolf was in the first place!Conservationists are asking for a stay of execution.

    You can read the update for yourself by going to Select the update posted on April 12, 2006, and scroll down to the section entitled “Incidents.”


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.

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