Yet another removal order issued for a rare Mexican wolf



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  1. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    The shooting of San Mateo pack Alpha Male 796 on February 15th brought the total number of lobos shot by the project so far to nine. Seven of those “lethal control” actions have occurred since 2005, when draconian SOP 13.0 on Control of Mexican Wolves took effect.

    Since that time, another three animals have been trapped and permanently removed from the population, and nine wolves died in capture related incidents arising from depredations. (One reminder to those from other areas: confirmed depredations are compensated at market value by Defenders of Wildlife, if livestock owners simply fill out and submit a brief form.)

    The destruction of the San Mateo alpha male effectively wiped out one of only seven breeding pairs claimed by the project (or six, if you believe, along with many conservationists, that the Bluestem pack doesn’t qualify as a breeding pair as defined in the Final Rule, since the current alpha male did not sire the pups from the 2006 litter and actually joined the pack as late as mid-December).

    The Saddle Pack is another of the breeding pairs counted by the project. So far, there is no removal order out for AM732 or AF797, but they also had “two strikes” against them prior to the recent calf killing incident, and are in jeopardy of removal should another depredation occur prior to April 22.

    Just as predicted by conservationists in 2005, removals under the rigid rules of SOP 13.0 are killing the Mexican wolf reintroduction. If new releases had stopped after 2002, as projected in the EIS, the population today would be even lower than the 59 animals documented in the end of year survey. Meanwhile, at the January 27 Adaptive Management Work Group meeting, wolf managers said there are no new releases planned for 2007.

    If a situation develops this spring, as it did in 2006, where numerous wolves are removed, the modest gains in population in 2006 will quickly be reversed. Clearly, the reintroduced population is not even close to being self-sustaining at present, and has fallen far short of the 102 animals and 18 breeding pairs in the wild projected in the EIS for the end of 2006.

  2. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    Quick correction to the above: the San Mateo alpha male was shot on February 20, not February 15. Of course, he’s just as dead, but I like to be as accurate as possible.

  3. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Jean, as I understand it, part of the reintroduction glitch revolves around the way the animals are handled pre-release time; i.e., they’re not skilled in hunting. In any case, trying to confine these wolves to a politically drawn box is shameful and an outrage. There is no ecological basis for this artificially determined safe zone.

  4. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    The first elk kill by a newly released pair of lobos occurred only about two weeks following their release in 1998. Some folks would like you to believe that the problem lies with the wolves–that they are unable to hunt, etc. That is pure nonsense, and is not borne out by the facts.

    Check out the Five Year Review of the project (link available on the FWS Mexican wolf web site, or on the AZGFD site) and you’ll see for yourself that the claim of “naive” wolves not adapting to the wild is bogus.

    The problem is excessive removal by the project for depredations, coupled with destruction of packs associated with translocations for boundary infractions. Since the adoption of SOP 13.0, removal for depredations has become the major cause of wolf removals and killings.

    Your take on the artificial boundaries is 100% on target.

  5. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Jean, thank you for clarifying the “naive” wolf idea. I spoke briefly, by the way, in November with one of the FWS biologists at Sevilleta NWR south of Albuquerque about the reintroduction effort. I was told, in a moment of candor I’m sure, that the things are not going well. The mounted wolf displayed in a glass case in the visitor center is almost shocking to view.

  6. Halina Szyposzynski Avatar
    Halina Szyposzynski

    On Feb 24, 2007 USFWS issued a permanent removal order for Saddle Pack M1007 due to third strike, in Catron County. I don’t know if that’s the topic of this thread, since the Las Cruces Sun-News link no longer points to an active story.

    There have been unusually numerous incidents reported in the last two USFWS Project Updates from Catron County, and also Apache County. Almost as if every feral dog, coyote and wolf in the southwest had ridden a bus into town just to cause trouble. Personally I wonder if this is part of an organized effort of incident “facilitation”. Here are examples reported in the Feb update:

    “On February 6, a permittee in Apache Country, Arizona, contacted the IFT to report a missing 350-pound calf after the permittee received telemetry information of a wolf location nearby. The IFT and permittee searched the relatively small, fenced pasture, but were unable to locate the calf or a carcass. Five days later, the permittee found a different calf dead and observed a cow fighting off three canids. An IFT investigation determined that coyotes were responsible for the calf depredation and found no sign of wolves in the area.”

    Note: AFTER receiving telemetry information of wolf presence, the rancher realized a calf was missing. A 350 POUND CALF in a FENCED pasture could not be found. Further, despite knowing that wolves were in the area, another calf and cow were allowed to remain depredation targets, this time by coyotes. Is this any way to run a serious business?

    Of course Catron County holds its own in the theatre of the absurd:

    “On February 24, the IFT investigated the remains of a calf in Catron County. They confirmed that it was a wolf depredation committed by an unknown, uncollared wolf, as they didn’t pick up any wolf telemetry signals in the area. Following this investigation, the IFT examined the remains of a cow on the same allotment, shown to them by the permittee, that had died three weeks prior. Due to insufficient remains and some wolf scat in the vicinity, they deemed it a possible depredation. ”

    Note: For THREE WEEKS, a cow carcass was allowed to remain on the allotment, until sure enough, another calf was found killed by an unknown, uncollared wolf.

    Well, heck and by golly, do pay this rancher as much as he/she wants in return for tolerance of wolves. I’d just like to know who kept track of their inventory for them before the field team started finding all their bloody carcasses for them.


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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Ralph Maughan