The Lessons of Lobo f1675
In December 2017, an Arizona hunter knowingly shot and killed a young lobo, took pictures of his “trophy,” and left her body to rot in a field. Someone else saw the photos and reported the killing to the anonymous tip line. Law enforcement officers investigated and, last year, the perpetrator lost his access to national forests, had to surrender his gun, got five years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution of $7500 for the wolf he killed. It didn’t restore Lobo f1675 to the wild, but it serves as a good reminder that killing wolves is a serious crime under the Endangered Species Act.
There was more to that sad story, including a part that gives us hope: A family that was camped in the same area had seen the Lobo f1765 nearby and had called the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) for advice about what to do. The AGFD told them not to shoot her unless their lives were in danger and to simply try to try to scare her away. She was most likely just curious about the camps and the entrails of deer or elk that previous hunters had left behind. She was successfully shooed away by the family that first spotted her, and they were left with the enviable experience of having seen of the rarest animals in North America in the wild.
We hope that more families grab cameras instead of guns if they are lucky enough to see a lobo, to report what they see and hear from other hunters about wolves, and to appreciate that Arizona and New Mexico’s forests are wilder and healthier with lobos on the landscape. These animals are rebounding in the southwest, but their numbers are perilously low and the risk of extinction and inbreeding is a real concern. Every lobo is essential to the recovery of this species, and each illegal killing is a tragic blow to the population.
November and December are typically peak months for illegal mortalities of Mexican wolves, but we can change that in 2019. People in the forests this fall can help by reporting any killing or harassment of wolves by calling the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 24-hour dispatch tip line at (800) 352-0700 or (800)432-4263 (1-800-432-GAME) for New Mexico Department of Fish and Game.
Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project and lives on the land of the Tohono O'Odham and Yaqui people in what is now called Arizona. Greta's opinions and world views are not necessarily reflected in the posts of other authors on this blog.
15 Responses to The Lessons of Lobo f1675
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Good that the penalty was severe enough to be a deterrent.
It seems to me that just like the Griz., wolves are attracted to gut piles then killed when too close to humans. Have hunters remove the entire carcass. If the average person left trash out that attracted wildlife they could be sited for littering. Why do hunters and ranchers get to litter and then gripe about Griz. and wolves?
Hiker, I agree. Almost weekly there are stories about predators being shot because some hunter felt “threatened”, or the animal was “stalking”. I believe most wildlife quickly learn what a hunter in the woods, tree stand or fields means – most often free lunch in the form of a gut pile or other cast offs from a hunter’s kill. Coyotes know this, and even crows will lead a savvy hunter to prey. Predator behavior needs to be taught in hunting classes given by state wildlife management agencies. It’s stunning how little these men o’ the woods know about wildlife.
An interesting short story. Last week I was at a small public rifle range approximately 8 miles south of Big Sky, Montana located on the national forest. Several shooters were at the benches and it was time to check targets. All of us started walking down to the 100 yard targets and one of the shooters said “I will tell you what happened here last mid November” I said did you shoot an elk here. “No”. What had happen was that he and another shooter had fired several shots and were looking though their spotting scopes to see where they had hit they targets. The another shooter looked down the power line and here comes a grizzly and her cub running toward them. They all started to yell and the sow kept coming and they kept yelling. Finally he had managed to chamber a round hoping not to have to shoot her. At that moment the sow and her cub tuned and ran off.
The bear was looking for a kill.
Thanks for sharing that amazing story. A good ending for bears!
Yes, and all too often the wildlife loses, unnecessarily. Even worse, of course, is when these hunters are killed, also unnecessarily.
SPORT AND TROPHY HUNTING SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. IF YOU NEED TO HUNT TO EAT AS MANY PEOPLE IN ALASKA DO, THATS FINE. IF YOU JUST WANT TO HANG A HEAD ON YOUR WALL THATS BARBARIC. MY OPINION SO NO ONE NEEDS TO REPLY.
It seems that this problem is only going to get worse as both grizzly and wolf populations increase. Having hunters remove the gut pile makes sense but the reality is who will actually do it. That is a lot of extra work and the entrails will need to be disposed of somewhere. I wonder if there is a way to render the gut pile unattractive to scavengers. Maybe spread some skunk essence over it or hose it down with bear spray. Something that would teach them just the opposite lesson they are currently learning -ie to be attracted by the sound of gun fire or even the sight of a human hunter and rather that the sight and sound of a human hunter leads only to something repulsive. I hate the thought of depriving scavengers from a meal, but this is a learned behavior that does not bode well for the animals that learn it.
Rob, if it’s hard to remove a carcass intact then what hunter would carry skunk essence or use expensive bear spray? Obviously removing the carcass must be made mandatory, just like prohibiting litter.
I don’t disagree that removing the whole carcass would be best, but it is not always practical. For most deer, it should not be a problem, but Elk or moose need to be cut up to be packed out. packing out 80 to 130 lbs of guts is a tall order. it would need to be done with many super heavy duty plastic bags or tubs of some sort. Carrying a canister of some fouling agent for those situations would seem like an alternative many hunters would choose given the choice. But we are just throwing out ideas here. We can’t even get rules for hunters to use nonlead ammunition to save eagles and endangered condors, hard to imagine removing or fouling gut piles to save grizzlies or wolves. Wish it was different.
Rob, all good points. There are many things that could be changed for the better. Meanwhile, wildlife suffer.
It just seems like such a Sisyphean task to get anybody to do anything or take any of this seriously, or the majority of people. It just the human propensity to have the ‘right’ and to dominate everything, cultural. At least it should come with some responsibility to the landscape and wildlife whose home it is to.
Even in this case, that family did the right thing, and I hope they appreciated seeing such a rare sight. Some of us never will, because of the domination of others over everything. Still, I feel bad that there’s always a fear, even in the 21st century.
Powered Chorine, sprinkle it on the gut pile.
Isn’t that poisonous? How long would that poison persist?