Mexican wolves have as bad a year in '09 as in '08

Hope for the future with plans to reduce “controls” for livestock depredations?

High mortality for the small population of Mexican wolves continued this year with the population again ending at about 50 wolves. Under new management plans it is hoped that government wolf removal for killing livestock will abate.

Another deadly year for Mexican wolf. By Associated Press

12/29. Note: An informed comment indicates 2009 was a bit of an improvement.

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Recently on this blog. Federal officials [said to] look for ways to make Mexican wolf recovery a success in the Southwest. Dec. 7, 2009.






  1. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Read a few of the posts and you will realize what the wolves are up against.

  2. JW Avatar

    There needs to be a additional recovery sites – Grand Canyon National Park would be one perfect place.

  3. Percy Avatar

    “Read a few of the posts and you will realize what the wolves are up against.”

    Reading comments on articles like that almost makes me go insane. I hate to say it, but science and education do have some value in this world, and many of the commenters sound woefully uneducated. It’s like a rancher writing a review of a Chinese opera and expecting to be taken seriously.

    I think some of the stimulus money should go to funding mounted anti-poaching rangers to protect the investment paid for with our tax dollars. I suggest pairing the patrols with the African model for discouraging rhino poaching.

  4. JW Avatar

    Good points Percy. It is amazing how we (USA) go around and help other countries save species from extinctions but then we let these rednecks run rampant here on our own soil. It is pretty amazing, and to tell you the truth hypocritical of us. I 2nd stimulus money for this kind of work – and since McCain isn’t in office, this won’t be pork spending like he claimed with grizzly DNA work which might be one of the more successful recent wildlife projects!

  5. Maska Avatar

    Just a couple of observations:

    First, there have been NO Mexican wolves removed for depredations since the end of 2007. Two packs, Middle Fork and San Mateo, were not removed this year despite having more than three depredations attributed to them.

    While the number of deaths in 2009 is a problem, there have also been a large number of pups born this year. Thus the dire headline on this post may be overly pessimistic.

    Finally, the verdict isn’t in yet on how many of these 2009 deaths are due to poaching, and how many to other causes, including natural ones.

    I suspect that we will see a modest increase in the number of wolves in the wild documented on the end-of-year survey for 2009, which will be conducted during the middle of January 2010.

    I agree that changes in management, if continued into 2010, should result in more progress toward the reintroduction goal of at least 100 wolves in the BRWRA.

  6. Percy Avatar

    People will work for dirt these days; it would be a plum job. I think there is room for a few graduate students to do dissertations in psychology and sociology as well.

    I wonder how much each of those wolves is worth, considering the money and effort spent on their reintroduction. Thousands? Now, if I went around destroying government property, you can bet my ass would be in jail, but not someone who poaches endangered species. The fines could be a great source of revenue for state and federal wildlife agencies suffering cuts due to the economy.

  7. gline Avatar

    Maska said: “While the number of deaths in 2009 is a problem, there have also been a large number of pups born this year.”

    What are your thoughts on the increase in pups? Any changes in the environment or ?

  8. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    “_________ have as bad a year in ‘09 as in ‘08” pretty much sums up Obama’s first year in office for me.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    That is good news or pretty good news. Thanks for the additional information.

  10. Twoshoes Avatar

    It is heartening to see some like-minded conservationists on this site. You may be interested in my Washington Post OpEd on the Mexican wolf recovery program and rangeland policies:

  11. mikarooni Avatar

    Maska, could you please comment on how many wolves are in the Aldo Leopold? My understanding is that there is no permit operational in the Aldo Leopold, which would seem to make it a good place for reintroduction.

  12. Todd Avatar


    The problem is that two of the biggest problem ranches lie just to the north of the wilderness area(s). You can see a map here:

    The wilderness is shown in black and the national forest boundary is shown in blue. Every grazing allotment is shown in red and the big problem allotments are shown in thick red.

    This same map, but with all of the wolf removals for 2007 included, is at:

    The removals are based on last known location since locations of depredations are not (yet) released. I am not sure of the exact number, but the majority or removals can be tagged to one of these two problem allotments.


  13. Todd Avatar

    sorry, the wolf removal location map is at .

    Cheers, Todd

  14. Maska Avatar


    There were more pups born in the form of a couple of large litters (e.g. Hawk’s Nest, with seven originally, and six surviving until at least late summer, and several other packs with at least four or five). This may (speculation on my part) have to do with good genetics on the part of some of these alphas, as well as the fact that several of these pairs (e.g. Hawk’s Nest, Bluestem) have young alpha animals that have had another year of pup-raising experience.

    Meanwhile, no packs were removed this year. The sole removal was a lone wolf, recaptured for being outside the recovery area and I think to treat an injury. She is elegible for possible re-release. Three pups from the San Mateo pack died in the course of the female’s moving her den, and two were recaptured after being abandoned, leaving that pack with just one pup in the wild. However, compared with 2007, when the Saddle, Aspen, and Durango packs were all removed or destroyed, and with 2008, when the Bluestem pack had an aging alpha female (since replaced), and both Paradise and Fox Mountain packs lost their alpha females, one to poaching and one to unknown causes, with any luck the number of surviving pups should be higher. Of course, events could prove me wrong.


    I think Todd’s answer pretty much sums up the situation with the Aldo Leopold. The release of the Nantac pair in the Aldo Leopold in late April 2006 resulted in almost immediate conflict with cattle. The government “lethally removed,” i.e. shot, the alpha male on June 18 and the alpha female on July 6 of that year.

    Hope this helps. If it raises more questions than it answers, you might take a look at the annual reports for 2001 through 2008, which are archived by AZGFD at

    Also, information at
    is now being updated much more frequently, for those who want to follow what’s happening with the lobos.

  15. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I updated the post to indicate matters had improved a bit.

  16. Salle Avatar


    That is an interesting and well informed OpEd. Thank you for writing it, I hope it will open some eyes and some minds.

  17. Maska Avatar


    Thanks. I’m guardedly optimistic that this year’s e.o.y. count will be better than last year’s. It would be helpful if law enforcement could make some headway against poachers, but the real key to growing the population is to keep a lid on management removals, thus keeping more breeding wolves in the wild. Some carefully planned new releases would be helpful, too.

  18. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    The problem in the past has been that so many wolves were removed by the government, new packs couldn’t form because of the lack of dispersing wolves. As Maska stated, by all accounts this has been a pretty good year for reproduction for a handful of packs. Hopefully the pup survival rate is high. I am also cautiously optimistic that despite the 10 dead confirmed wolves for 2009, we will see an increase in the “known” wolf year end count. And hopefully we’ll see a few new pairs bond in the upcoming breeding season.

  19. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Nice to be back on the blog again. Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas!

    JW, I’m with you, there has got to be additonal release sites. By concentrating wolves anyone who has even the slightest hunting skills can track them down.


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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