Wolf Tug-of-War in the Southwest

In case folks haven’t picked up on what Mary is posting about, it’s about the removal (gov’t killing of Mexican wolf) of wolf AF924k. She was thought by many in the locality to be an especially dangerous wolf. Wolf supporters thought her to be an especially valuable wolf because of her good genetics and the fact that she had wild born pups. Wolf supporters have been saying for some time that local livestock growers don’t clean up the carcasses of dead livestock.

See here are some stories on this controversy.


Wolf Tug-of-War in the Southwest

Jess Edberg, Information Services Director — International Wolf Center, 07/10/2007

Conflict between livestock producers and the reintroduced Mexican wolf population has remained steady since the first release of captive-reared wolves in 1998.

Emotions are running high in Catron County, New Mexico, after the lethal removal of a female Mexican wolf that had been seen near a family ranch. Wolf AF924 was released in the county on April 25 after being relocated due to depredation.

Wolf AF924, of the Durango pack, killed two cows previous to being released in Catron County. She was involved in a third depredation of a cow and calf that occurred late last month within the Durango pack territory. This recent depredation incident is the third strike against her.

In accordance with the rules of the 1998 program to reintroduce endangered Mexican wolves to Arizona and New Mexico, a wolf with three depredations on its record within one year must be removed permanently from the wild by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Removal can be in the form of removing the wolf from the wild and placing it in captivity or by lethal control—killing the wolf.

The removal of AF924 came as a relief to many residents in the Durango pack area. Previous to the current depredation investigation, residents in the area had appealed to the county for action against the wolf. They stated that AF924 was a threat to human safety, requiring fearful residents to arm themselves with pistols as they walked to the mailbox or ventured into their yard. A psychiatrist also diagnosed a teenage girl with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the presence of AF924 on her family’s ranch.

Catron County commissioners took immediate action and filed a notice with the USFWS that county officials would trap AF924 themselves and turn her over to the USFWS for removal.

The USFWS responded to the county with a letter stating that although the agency understood the presence of this wolf might be disconcerting, there was no evidence that AF924 was an imminent danger to humans and, therefore, there was no reason to remove her. The USFWS also reminded the commissioners that a county ordinance does not supersede the federal Endangered Species Act.

With the recent depredation, however, the USFWS took action with a lethal removal order on July 3. AF924’s mate, AM973, is also implicated in the livestock kill, but this would be the first strike against him. AF924 was shot and killed by USFWS agents on July 5.

This depredation incident comes on the heels of a failed attempt by Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) to get the House to approve two amendments targeted at restricting the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program. Representative Pearce argued that the program has failed primarily due to depredation.

Conflict between livestock producers and the reintroduced Mexican wolf population has remained steady since the first release of captive-reared wolves in 1998.

However, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful, expressed dismay at the USFWS policy to lethally remove depredating wolves.

“I strongly support the effective recovery of endangered Mexican wolves in the Southwest, done in a responsible and sensitive way,” said Governor Richardson “Changes must be made to the protocol for the wolf reintroduction program.”

The USFWS did not comment on Governor Richardson’s statement but did comment on the removal of AF924 in a previous meeting.

Elizabeth Slown, public affairs specialist for the USFWS, told the media that they want to take care of AF924’s pups and her mate AM974.

“We want the male to take over the care of the pups,” Slown said. “That’s why we didn’t set traps [to remove AF924]. We didn’t want to chance catching the male and causing too much stress on the pack.”

USFWS plans to supplement AF924’s pups and her mate AM974 with road-killed elk.

For more details on the removal of AF924, see the monthly report available later this month at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/BRWRP_notes.cfm


Sinapu has a story too.

Wildlife officials in N.M. shoot wolf after her third cattle kill

Story in the El Defensor Chieftain. Tuesday, July 3, 2007 (local newspaper)
[Rep] Pearce’s amendment to end wolf program is defeated. The local congressman tried to get the Mexican wolf program ended.


A lot of scientists were very unhappy about the termination of this wolf.

Hundreds of Scientists Warned Against Wolf Killing Before Feds Shot New Mexico Wolf. Governor Richardson’s Demand for Reform Echoes Scientists.’ News release in Common Dreams

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  1. Mary Avatar

    Catron County Officials appealed to Mexican wolf program managers NOT to release this wolf. They have lots of on the ground experience with how these wolves behave. They have kept a record of where the wolves are and what they are doing around the county for 18 months. The feds aren’t not even interested in the reality on the ground.

    The people here are the real experts at predicting wolf behavior. Program people don’t seem to get it at all. They were told there would be trouble if they released this wolf near Catron County as she was a know dangerous and extremely habituated wolf (from a dangerous pack, 2 “confirmed” depredations under her belt by the time she was 2). For some reason they dumped their precious genes out, by dumping this wolf out pregnant 25 miles from her old killing grounds. two+ weeks later she was BAAaCK as habituated as ever doing exactly what the county had told FWS she would do. Who’s the bad guy here?

    When she arrived local observers saw she did not look or behave like a nursing canine. Everyone knew that she had dumped her pups for the journey. Wolves rarely spend much time in the area she was dumped into. (They could have kept her in captivity and saved those precious genes for release later) Who’s the bad guy?

    Meanwhile everybody that see’s her regularly knows she has no pups. She spends most of her time hanging about and gadding about. No swollen teats.

    Now according to an article in the AZ Republic their still claiming she has pups and using her make-brelieve pups to gain sympathy! How Pathetic!

    I heard of her autopsy/examination a couple of days before, and the results showed she hadn’t had milk for about 6 weeks.

  2. mikarooni Avatar

    Mary, I don’t trust any of your reporting or observations. You don’t seem to have much formal education; your conclusions don’t seem very consistent or thoughtful; and, frankly, you don’t seem very literate. You can’t even spell.

  3. Jay Avatar

    Mary, you ought to be a bit more worried about the rich, Hummer-driving types that will eventually decide that your area is to their liking, at which point they’ll buy up everything and price the locals out. You guys make such a big fuss over your few wolves–despite what everyone says, for the most part, a good portion of the ranchers up here in Idaho have accepted the fact that wolves are here. Sure there are a few blowups, but the “they’ll eat all the prey, eat all the other predators, then take kids at the bus stops” talk ended many years ago.

  4. Jane Avatar

    Those hummer driving types are already there checking out the subdivision plats the ranchers have drawn up to save their economic hides when the wolves put them out of business.]
    Mary has some idead that we should all research and think about. It seems calous and elitist to simply dismiss them because of a mispelled word. I am sure there will be one in my post somewhere. If the people down here would get their act together and stop the elitism, fighting and extremism on both sides, this would be a much less invasive and burdensome program.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There doesn’t seem to be any method of stopping sub-divisions, certainly not by subsidizing “traditional” ranching methods.

    Remote subdivisions will become less attractive if the price of gasoline rises a lot relative to other goods and services.

    The best measure I have heard about is the National Grazing Buyout where ranchers could voluntarily accept a very generous lump sum to stop grazing their public grazing allotment. Then they would be less likely to sell their base property to make it through what should be retirement years.

    However, if the land becomes highly valuable in an alternative use, many ranchers will sell despite talk about how “I’d never give up my way of life.”

  6. mikarooni Avatar

    With this new turn in the discussion, we’ve simply moved on the next red herring. Most of the land in Catron is public land, as they like to complain. Yes, there are nefarious elements looking to gain control of and privatize such public lands, those elements have certainly been active in Catron, and, if allowed to gain control, they will certainly move to subdivide and sell off their stolen goods; but, no, rolling over for the rightwing lunatic fringe that these nefarious elements use for a front is not the way to stop the subdivision of rangelands.

    The truth is that it is the private rangelands across the west, not the public lands, that are in the most immediate danger of subdivision. Thus, since every feeder calf that comes off the public lands is a feeder calf that is direct competition with calves coming off private ranches, providing public lands ranchers with even more of an artificial advantage than they already have in competing with private land ranchers is not a productive thing to do.

    We need to stay perfectly aware of the details of each and every argument in this arena. There are plenty of people who have stakes in this topic, from ranchers whose families are also making money from land development and construction to banking and political interests who launder the money loaned on mortgages that are buoyed by grazing permits to monopolistic slaughterhouse interests and mega-ranchers who dominate the cattlegrowers associations and work both ends against the middle. Each of these interests is constantly working with and against the others in complex and perverted schemes that can be quite hard to track and follow completely; it’s a real bunco carnival.

    The bottom line is that, for many ranches in the west, the base properties are only a tiny fraction of the size of the associated state leases or federal allotments attached to them. By biting the bullet with regard to subdividing forty or a hundred acres, you may be able to eliminate grazing on tens of thousands of acres of associated public land and reduce the market competition on ranchers who are still trying to hold onto tens of thousands of private ranch acres in the bargain.

    I am not, however, advocating this path; there are extreme political and economic dangers in eliminating public lands grazing, although that discussion is far more complex and too timeconsuming for this forum. At the same time, I don’t like to see the argument perverted, by any of the many intellectually deficient purists on either side, into something simpler than it is. Given the changes in the ways in which financial and political power is being concentrated and wielded around the globe, there are plenty of reasons for sustaining the public lands ranching tradition in the west, but only if it can be done in the right places, at the right intensity, with the right kinds of livestock, under the right management approach, and, most important, only when those involved accept and support the real value of these lands. The real value of these lands is to preserve the rare natural wealth on them, all of it. We don’t need these lands to preserve poorly educated, cocky, strutting, belligerent trailer trash; we already do a lot of that in lots of other places at far less expense. If we can’t sustain these lands under the right conditions and instead get seduced into enabling resort lifestyles for rural misfits, then we might as well subdivide because we will have lost what was truly valuable anyway.

  7. Davej Avatar


    I think it would be helpful if you would provide a summary of what you describe as “the extreme political and economic dangers” we’d face without cows on public lands in the arid southwest?

    At one time – more than 20 years ago – I thought it might be possible to reform public lands grazing by changing management practices. These days the voluntary buyout seems to be the best game in town.


  8. Mary Avatar

    More often what’s happening is subdivisions, lots of them in this rural area. Its what’s happening when wolves drive ranchers off the land. The peopleless (cultural genocidal) agenda for rural America stinks. The people who created this agenda have caused vast losses of species and habitat here. More than cattle, more than anything in known history. The wolf program here could care less about the successful wolves, in the hills, surviving successfully without trauma to them or their human neighbors. Program personnel don’t even notice them, they don’t count them, don’t talk about them – to anyone. And yet the are the success stories, the actual living goal of the program.

    The Center for Illogical Destruction and agency personnel seem only interested in getting known dangerous and problematic wolves on the ground. The ones most certainly to wreak havoc on the population claiming “valuable Genes!” Two court judgements on the issue have determined that the hundreds of captive bred wolves are all possessed of genes legitemate and no less valuable to the introduction than the troublesome ones. The “promoters” here are not at all interested in successful wolves because they are not useful tools for rural cleansing. Pure and Simple. They could release wolves JUST AS IMPORTANT TO A REAL RECOVERY GOAL that are not known depredators and hopelessly habituated. Their goal is not successful recovery but harrassment to the death of this culture. CULTURAL GENOCIDE is not a very nice agenda in the best of times. Those who participate in this are who they are but not a very nice kind of human being.

    I guess that’s why their needle is stuck on denigrate the rural people and anyone who sees things in a different way, denigrate the rural people and anyone who sees things in a different way, denigrate the…..

  9. skyrim Avatar

    “wolves drive ranchers off the land”…………Is that the myth they are spreading down in your neighborhood Mary? Or is that just your mantra for today?
    “The death of a culture”, “Cultural Genocide”
    I pity you Mary. Reality is not within your grasp. I have read enough of your diatribe to now make that conclusion.

  10. Mary Avatar

    A recent study at the New Mexico State University on the economic impact of the wolf program on Catron County should be enlightening to the cadre of naysayers that populate this site and denigrate any utterance or person which does not jibe with their well cultivated and thoroughly entrenched pre-concieved notions. I suppose I should not waste my breath since new ideas do not seem your forte and many of you actually seem to feel somewhat hostile towards them when you don’t just, so easily, dismiss new concepts out of hand.

    Catron County Initial Assessment Report was compiled of this economic report and also included a detailed assessment of the social, cultural and Distributional impacts from another study from Western New Mexico University by a doctor with international expertise on such studies. (He was lured by a phone call to check out a situation on some land he visited regularly recently. When he got to the gate, which is usually open, he got out of his car and was shot at by a well known environmentalist around Silver City , New Mexico. Fortunately he was not injured, but this shows the contempt that can be felt for knowledge (his report) that interfered with someones agenda.]

    December 20, 2006

    2.3 Economic Impacts: Since the first translocations of wolves into Catron County in the year 2000, the financial impacton mainly small family ranches has been devastating.

    Wolf depredation on Catron County livestock has resulted in financial damage (2000-2006):

    * Total cattle loss, 182 cows;total value: $129,764
    * Total calf losses are 854 calves; total value: $369,992
    * Total cattle lost in 6 yr. period = 1,036 head

    From the above reported cattle losses the total loss = $499,156

    Impacts to Catron County = $598,987 loss in 6 yrs. (1.2 multiplier)
    Impacts to the State of New Mexico = $898,480 loss in 6 yrs. (1.8 multiplier)

    These are conservative estimates because the figures are based on market value not replacement value (aquisition, acclimation, years to calving).

    Due to wolf depredation thus far, the financial impacts to these ranchers continues to have a significant impact on county businesses, government and schools including:
    *Negative Catron County mpact of $600,000
    *Loss of $33,000 to county government and schools
    *Loss of $47,000 to local businesses
    *Negative impact of approximately $900,000 to the state’s economy
    [Bear in mind we are talking about impacts to a county with only about 3,500 people – rural – the largest village Reserve has about 300 people]

    The above estimated impacts are from only 8-10 wolf impacted ranchers. Approximately 50% of the county’s tax base is derived from cattle ranching. Two ranchers have already succumb due to wolf depredation. Approximately 10 are threatened with failure within the next year. According to realtors most ranches are for sale,as ranchers try to cut their losses before the wolf populaton gets larger. The ranches for sale will not be sold as cattle ranches but will most likely be converted into residential subdivisions.

    The implications to the county government services and schools are significant: residential development is currently putting substantial fiscal strains on the county budget. With the likelihood of ranches becoming subdivisions the county will lose:
    * Approx. 50% of its tax base
    * Elimination of just the 10 ranches that are at risk for failure will result in approximately 40,000 acres being subdivided.
    * Subdivision will be a significant cumulative impact to county government and schools with a significant, compounding effect on its austere budget, incurring progressive stresses and demands for services.

    Cattle ranching will disappear as the county’s tax base in the forseeable future if solutions are not found to protect the livestock from depredating wolves….

    “wolves driving ranchers off the land”…absolutely! The habituated depredators they keep inflicting the situation are. These of course are the “special” darlings of the CBD who wants all the people out. They completely ignore the goals of the program, ignore the successful wolves who like the bears and mountain lions are only occasionally a bother here, and constantly sabotage the program goals for successful wolves by insisting on imposing the most troublesome depredators into the situation. Ther are hundreds of adequate wolves that have a chance to become successful wolves if released, but it won’t happen. This program is being sabotaged by extremists. Its not about genes, its not about getting successful wolves on the ground, its about cultural genocide, its hateful and very painful. The callousness shown by those of this site is showing a similar streak of indifferance.
    “Cultural genocide”… YOU BET!!!

  11. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Just curious about a couple of your assertions. If the total population of Catron county is ~3500 with the biggest cluster of people living in Reserve at ~300——– who is going to live in 40,000 acres of subdivisions?

  12. Mary Avatar

    The people moving here from the cities, to get away from the hubbub and the culture. I recently read where the numbers moving to what they called the “exurbs” like Catron County, now out number those moving to the suburbs that are rapidly marching all directions from the big population centers. This could most likely be double checked by looking up the “demographics” for AZ & NM on the internet.

    Northern Catron County, near the town of Quemado is beautiful country. There, something on the order of 50,000 acres have been subdivided (Courtney White, founder of the Quivira Coalition). Our small sparsely traveled rural highways will soon give way to traffic strewn 4 lanes.

    Quite frankly there’s considerable mention of qet-away homes as people sense some impending collapse of “business as usual” in alien consumption-bubble land.

    Quivira is helping a rancher (the last full time one) north of Quemado to restore his landscape to a lush state so he can continue ranching in spite of the FS cutbacks on HIS allotments. Not too much wolf activity up there yet, most wolves are released in the south.

    These certainly are real concerns as the world is beginning to feel the deleterious effects of energy instability, food shortages, fresh water scarcity, and the current warming trend. The current tanking of the dollar and high treasonous dissolution of our government by NGOs add to the insecurity.

    I believe the book called something like “The Late Great USA” by Jerome Corsi is now #2 on the NYTimes bestselling list for non-fiction. This would give a well documented expose’ of the fiasco (the leaders of Mexico, Canada, and the US are enthusiastically participating) which is planned to be in place by 2012 I believe (about 4 1/2 yrs). Lots of changes coming.

    No more America, no more elected officials, just one’s appointed by the supreme wealth powers that be (yep, bet their the same ones that have been fighting so long for the resources of the mountain west.) who have been trying to accomplish what the ESA has. A power beyond the checks and balances of our government and the laws that protect the rights to freedom and safety etc.

    Talks of the future based on past assumptions are about useless at this time. Lack of homeland food security is serious here only 2% of housholds farm. Almost no one retains the knowledge of how to produce their own food without a lot of yuppie plant starts and hundreds of dollars worth of supplements from the garden shop.

    The powers that be want to all control the food, the great population control enabler used so effectively in Africa. They want to be the only source for it. Franken seeds and death seeds (that are never viable the next generation)

    Here small rural food producing families are literally being hounded to death by an army of people intent on destroying our world and nothing else matters. They don’t see any self-caused sabotage of the real health of the landscape. Contrary to what kt says there have been miracales of rancher stewardship here. Mountains of mine tailings restored by ranchers to beautiful grassy hillsides, producing a functioning watershed and abundant habitat.

    Dan Dagget one of the original members of Earth First and a winner of a top 50 activists award by the Sierra Club went exploring around the west taking pictures of what was actually happening on the land and came up with a book, “Beyond the Rangeland Conflict” I believe it was nominated for a Pulitzer(?).

    He found really encouraging management being done by ranchers. His follow-up book, “Gardeners of Eden, Remembering Our Importance TO Nature” where he went back to see how things were going with these land restorations, tells and shows a very interesting and encouraging real live story. It also goes out on tours with ecology research scientists to see what the land is saying about the competition. The “no use, get ’em off” doctrine.
    Very interesting and informative seeing FWS biologists frustrated (in 1 photo their) because their cowless reserves can’t compare with the ranching neighbors abundant ecology.

  13. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    So what your saying is that people are going to move in to Catron County from elsewhere in numbers large enough to fill up 40,000+ acres of subdivisions. And where will all these people be working there in Catron County?

  14. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    About Africa; I will keep this short as it is a bit off topic. However, I think that it is still very relevent pertaining to many topics.—-My Cultural Geography professor, [back in the late 1980’s], brought up a very interesting idea about the situation in Africa. Before the missionaries showed up in Africa, the birth rate was equal to the death rate and there was plenty of food. One might say they were “self-sustaining”. The missionaries decide they need to go “save those heathens” not with just their ideology, but with vaccinations so they would not die from the various diseases that the well-meaning crusaders could cure. The birth rate went up and the death rate down and they started dying from starvation as they were unable to grow enough food for the growing population. So one might come to the conclusion that the powers that be, are controlling food supplies to keep from exacerbating the problem. I guess they do not want to keep throwing food at the situation. At the very least this is a horrific situation.

    And still today in our country we are trying to fix problems that the settlers started. We are trying to return some balance with our wildlife, environment, food and water supply, etc.,etc.,….. Which was bad enough until the current admin. made it even worse. Auuuuuuuuuuuugh!, said Charlie Brown.

  15. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    In past posts Mary has sited a website named wolfcrossing.org. I suggest checking out this website in order to fully understand the mentality of people like Mary. Talk about perpetuating a culture of fear. It’s truly sad that the parents will teach their kids to be scared and then use this fear to further their agenda to bring a halt to the recovery program. This “wolves staking out bus stops” is truly over the top. What a sorry bunch of “chickensh$#s” (of course I mean the parents)

    I just spent the weekend camping in the recovery zone with some friends and one person in our party was lucky enough to see 3 gray wolves while out for a drive at dawn.

    I’ve backpacked and camped dozens of times in the Blue and Gila and have never felt threatened or scared because of these wolves. In fact I’ve never even seen one but they are the reason I choose to camp and hike in these places.

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Maybe it’s kind of like when a child wakes up at night and says, “daddy, there’s a monster under my bed.”

    . . . and daddy says, “yes, be afraid.”

  17. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    I recall this tactic being used before during the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone. I was watching a news program (60 minutes, Dateline,…..) and they had a video clip from one of the public hearings in Wyoming. The video clip was of a mother expressing her objections to the reintroduction. After she was finished she introduced her young son (probably 6-7 years old) and he said how afraid he was of wolves and that if the wolves were reintroduced he wouldn’t be able to play outside anymore. I was totally apalled that this mother would use her son in this way. There is no doubt that she planted this seed of fear and coached her son to say this. It was truly disgusting.

  18. elkhunter Avatar

    Jeff N, Gray wolves? Your an expert on wolves in the SW? JK but I think down there they are called “Mexican Wolves” I could be wrong though. So before you call them out on their uneducated stance, maybe you should at least know what kinda wolf is down there.

  19. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    elk hunter,
    “The most highly differentiated North American GRAY WOLF (sic) taxon is the Mexican Wolf (c.l. baileyi)” Robert K. Wayne. Wolves Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation.
    I knew this, obviously Jeff N knows this, probably most who post here know this.
    Once again you open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  20. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.


    Never said I was an expert on the wolf and, yes, I do believe they are called Mexican GRAY wolves. A minimal amount of research would have confirmed this for you. I may not be an expert but apparently you are a half-wit.


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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