Another dead Mexican wolf in Arizona; Can we release adults now?

Pups from the same captive litter as these two from Kansas were cross-fostered by the wild Hoodoo pack in Arizona. LOU ALEXANDER SEDGWICK COUNTY ZOO

You might not have seen the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release this week that announced the illegal killing of another Mexican wolf in Arizona. Authorities are looking for information on “a vehicle that was stopped or driving slowly near the Saffel Canyon Trailhead on the evening of February 18, 2021,” or anything else that someone, somewhere, might know about the killing.

Every illegal killing is a theft from all of us, but this wolf’s story adds insult to injury. She was a young female, number 1887, cross-fostered into the Hoodoo Pack in Arizona just last spring. Cross-fostering is the only way that Arizona Game and Fish Department is allowing new wolves to be released in Arizona right now, and it’s a critically important tool for improving the genetic diversity of the struggling population. Cross-fostering is tricky business, requiring wild dens to welcome captive-born pups as their own and raise them up in the wild. Hoodoo 1887 was one who had apparently made it through the crucial first year.

Look, we’ve been saying this for a while, but the death of Hoodoo 1887 before she was able to breed underscores the point: relying on cross-fostering alone isn’t going to save this species. We need well-bonded adult and family pack releases into the wild, and we need them yesterday.

If the Biden Administration and Secretary Deb Haaland want to save Mexican wolves from their second wild extinction, they need to step around the obstinate state wildlife agencies that are blocking anything but cross-fostered pups in Arizona and New Mexico. Cross-fostering is too little, too late for the recovery of this species, especially if ding-dongs with rifles keep taking out a significant percentage of the wolves each year.

In the meantime, spread the word about the reward of $37K for information about this suspicious death. Someone’s gotta want that money.


Edited to add: AND the Fish and Wildlife Service MUST stop removing cross-foster wolves for livestock-caused conflict, like, ahem, at problem ranches.







  1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
    Maggie Frazier

    Not only releases but weeding out the people in these departments that arent upholding the law & making these crimes higher priority for law enforcement.
    This is the same kind of crap that happens when wild horses or for that matter, any wild animal is killed for nothing more than existing. Allowing “”””hunters”””” to get away with “mistaking a wolf for a coyote” – because its dandy to shoot a coyote??? Attitudes must be changed in regard to predators and humans educated!

    1. Gail Avatar

      Completely agree. The punishments, too, must be substantial. And could they strive to include COLLARED wildlife?
      Yes, “Ooops! I thought it was a coyote!” just isn’t cutting it. And coyotes must cease being used as scapegoats for everything under the sun.

  2. Jim Dundee Avatar
    Jim Dundee

    Every time I read about this sh*t, I get angry. It’s time to put these jerks in jail, take away their gun rights for life!!
    I’m all in for doing whatever is required to protect wolves and coyotes from so called hunters. I live in the Wildness and mountains. Love to hear wolves howling at night.

  3. Dave Avatar

    The Mexican Wolf population is increasing each year, 25% on average.
    Cross fostering maintains a genetic pool.
    Assuming a hunter killed the wolf is irresponsible until an investigation is completed.
    AND – Feral horses and burros are out of control – many are dying of thirst and starvation here in AZ as our drought worsens.

    1. Greta Anderson Avatar
      Greta Anderson

      The Mexican wolf population grew from 163 to 186 (14 percent) in 2020, and that was with an influx of 24 cross-fostered pups. Hardly a boom time.

      No one implied a “hunter” was to blame — but someone killed the wolf, which is why FWS put out the news release.

      AND – Feral horses have nothing to do with this story.

  4. Beeline Avatar

    The Montana State legislature has recently been busy passing HR224 and HR225 which would extend the wolf killing season 30 days , make snaring legal plus (HR225), which would make hunting wolves with archery equipment legal. These are of course gray wolves but the state game departments seem to be of one mind. They do not comment or even seem to care about the health of the ecosystems they are responsible for but rather go for the money emphasizing trophy hunting and trapping etc. while there are still some animal species left to take advantage of.

    This makes the Northern ROckies Ecosystem Protection Act that much more vital to save representative ecosystems intact and in functioning condition. Considering the attitudes of the states, I still believe that it will be a tough battle to get it passed.

  5. Marc Bedner Avatar

    The family separation program known as “cross-fostering” does not add to the genetic diversity of the artificially bred descendants of the last few Mexican wolves trapped from the wild. If Colorado follows through with plans to reintroduce grey wolves, and Mexican wolves are released from zoos and allowed to interbreed with them, there would be some hope for a thriving wolf population in the Southwest.
    As to wild horses (why describe zoo wolves as “wild” but free-roaming horses as “feral”?) they are a rare example of a successful reintroduction program, although the conquistadores had no idea that they were returning a species which originated in the Americas.

    1. Jeff Avatar

      The infusion of genetics from Colorado is what will ultimately decide the fate of lobos I believe. No different than Texas cougars saving Florida panthers from inbreeding. Cross fostering helps but with limited genetics to start with, the end is inevitable—unless some wild wolves from the north make it to the Gila and beyond.

    2. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      Any day now, the anti-wolf bunch will come to the conclusion that wolves are also “feral”! Apparently, that title means they dont deserve to live in the wild (per the wild horses). Altho I seem to remember reading that feral has the same meaning as wild!

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