Who’s afraid of the big [actually little] bad [how’s that?] wolf [pups]?

Pups being moved into wild dens. Photo via: https://www.endangeredwolfcenter.org/blog/four-ewc-wolf-pups-make-cross-fostering-history/

The Catron County fearmongers are at it again, complaining to the State Land Commissioner of New Mexico that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s cross-fostering of wolf pups somehow puts residents at risk and, “jeopardizes the lives” of New Mexicans.

Representative Yvette Herrell cried wolf to New Mexico State Land Commissioner in early May, 2020 with a letter that discusses the state’s having granted permission to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct cross-fostering on state lands. The letter states, “These activities are occurring less than two miles away from the home of several of my constituents who have expressed to me their extreme alarm and fear for the safety of their family and livestock.”

Seems like someone is not clear on the concept of cross-fostering. It entails moving 10- to 14- day old wolf pups from captivity into established wild dens with litters of their own. The wild wolves have already denned at the site, independently. Depending on the litter size, a number of the wild puppies might be removed from the same den where the captive-bred babies are inserted to ensure that the overall pack size isn’t too great to risk its survival, which really amounts to no new wolves. And in any case, the cross-fostered pups are still teeny, tiny  and really shouldn’t be cause for “extreme alarm.” It’s almost like someone just felt like making a stink about nothing, because the introduction of  a few baby wolves onto state land is not a threat to anyone.

The wolf puppies will hardly dress up like Grandma and lay abed in ambush for unsuspecting grandchildren. The ranchers need to stop wearing out the fairy tales.

And don’t forget that the threats to livestock that certain Catron County ranches reported from state-land denning wolves last year turned out to be very questionable. The depredation reports – like a number of them in New Mexico – are inconclusive (at best).

Rep. Herrell pivots from complaining about the dire threat of wolf puppies to complaining that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn’t charged a fee for this Natural Resource Authorization (NRA), begging the question if Rep. Herrell has any idea what pathetically low fees that ranchers pay to graze on state lands? Or, for that matter, federal lands?

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard did the right thing by cooperating with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ensuring that the cross-fostering efforts wouldn’t be hindered by political stupidity. Western Watersheds Project stands with the majority of the American public in welcoming the return of Mexican wolves to public lands, and in celebrating the return of lost biodiversity.


  1. Julie Long Gallegos Avatar
    Julie Long Gallegos

    My godmother grew up on a sheep ranch in Chico, California when the last of California’s wild wolves were being exterminated. She told me a few years before she passed that it was common knowledge in the sheep ranching community that unsupervised domestic dogs were the worst threat to sheep; not wolves, bears, mountain lions, or coyotes. Farm dogs.
    No reason that I can see, to assume any differently for New Mexico.

  2. Maggie Frazier Avatar
    Maggie Frazier

    Same old, Same old! These idiotic statements of the “fear” of individuals whose real fears of their outdated ways are the issue. Livestock users of the allotments at $1.35/AUM LEASE of public lands (range & forests)should come to an end. Claiming ownership of land that belongs to all of us when they pay a pittance – using these LEASES as collateral on bank loans – accepting subsidies for loss of their livestock – AND claiming wolf damage to their cattle without any proof that wolves actually were to blame. Anything else? Yeah I’m sure there is more. IF, really IF wolves are responsible for any losses – how about instead of immediately screaming for killings – how about doing their job – maybe spending time watching over their livestock – using non-lethal methods of protecting – of which there are many. The thing is, the ranchers get reimbursed – whether its domestic dogs, wolves, or lightning strikes.

  3. Rick Meis Avatar
    Rick Meis

    Wuerthner’s book Welfare Ranching is still too true.

    I grew up in a small, western town where ranchers blamed all lost calves and sheep on coyotes. It was proven it was local dogs packing up and terrorizing herds at night. Then came the wolves to the Salmon-Selway (still my favorite backcountry!) and the local farmers/ranchers and others went ballistic.

    But the idea that wolves are a threat to people is pure delusion. I suggest that any discussion be shelved on that topic until wolf attacks on humans reaches one percent of US gun deaths.

    I think I’ll, once again, contact my Electeds and tell them to cut quit catering to farmers and ranchers until they actually are paying their own way, without subsidies, price supports, below value leases and so forth.

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      I also read the book! Sure did make crystal clear the damage done to public lands and forests AND National Parks (of all places) by cattle and sheep. I may live in NYS but have seen enough cow pastures to know what happens to riparian areas – its where domestic cattle hang! To add to that – I am very pro-Wild Horses – the propaganda that these ranchers are pushing – that its a few thousand wild horses doing all that damage when there are millions of cattle on the same land? NOPE that doesnt wash – if you know what I mean. The slaughter of bison, wolves, mountain lions hundreds of years ago because they were in the way of “progress”? Look where we are now – far too many species, predator & prey, are so close to extinction. And these users of our wild places want to wipe them out. We all should be contacting our electeds & tell them exactly what Rick said above! Actually, I’ve been doing that & I’m getting more “firm” about it.

  4. Marc Bedner Avatar

    Your description appears simple enough: “Seems like someone is not clear on the concept of cross-fostering. It entails moving 10- to 14- day old wolf pups from captivity into established wild dens with litters of their own. The wild wolves have already denned at the site, independently. Depending on the litter size, a number of the wild puppies might be removed from the same den.”
    It this is too complicated a concept for Yvette Herrell and company, here’s a simpler description: cross-fostering is family separation. This should allow a bipartisan consensus between Trump and Biden supporters who support family separation in other circumstances.

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      Funny how the trumpRs “consensus” in so many areas is so very limited to specific instances. For instance, Jan 6th “NOT an insurrection” – normal tourist visits! And the family separation policy, and and and!

  5. Beeline Avatar

    Ecological conversations are not exactly “in” these days but a logical question is- What are the wolves supposed to eat”.

    So far the “rabbit plague” has spread to Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas and Florida. Rabbits are a primary prey species for quite a few avian and mammalian predators. Less rabbits means less predators. And less rabbits means larger predators like wolves must go after other prey like cows.

    The virus in question appears to be related to the virus that was developed and released in Australia to kill rabbits there. The virus is very lethal and kills around 70% or more of the rabbits that are infected. Some American zoos are now raising wild species of rabbits in captivity to be released back into the wild. Desperation on steroids.

    We can’t even make it safe for rabbits on public land. And the present large scale drought in the Southwest will only make it harder for the remaining animals to survive.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Really. It seems everything we do just adds to more destruction. I’m not very optimistic about our ‘remedies’ for climate change, although I definitely believe in it. Humans have certainly left their mark.

      Australia now has an overabundance of mice, because there must be not enough predators. Is that due to the fires or introducing viruses, I don’t know. To keep poisoning is definitely not the answer. 🙁

  6. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    This is the most ‘reasonable’ article I could find – most are calling it a ‘plague’, ‘haunting nightmare’, ‘chaos’, or other sensationalist terms:

    “To try to prevent the mice from devouring everything, the state government has ordered 1,320 gallons of bromadiolone, a banned poison, from India.”


  7. Beeline Avatar

    Putting non native animals in new habitats, especially when they can reproduce freely without predation, is never smart and has caused some of the worst ecological and economic damage in the last couple hundred years. But as Einstein said “problems cannot be solved by using the same thinking that created them in the first place”.

    Rabbits got started big time in southern Australia from less than two dozen European rabbits that were sent to a rich fellow named Thomas Austin who wanted something to shoot. In ten years there were so many rabbits that hunters killed something like 2 million a year and never slowed their population growth. So it follows that farmers and ranchers got pissed off and wanted the rabbits killed off. They did not care how. The Australian government offered a reward for researchers to find a deadly rabbit disease. They finally succeeded.

    It is ironic that the first version of the deadly rabbit hemorrhagic virus “escaped” from a laboratory in Australia in 19995 and then a more deadly version was released at 600 different places in Australia in 2017. And I suppose that Australian officials did not think it would spread to other continents or perhaps they just did not care. But it spread and morphed into a kind of rabbit E bola here in the U.S.

    Ecological thinking has been suppressed for so long that our chance for survival in this FUBAR white mans system is about zip. Hmmmm-maybe that’s the idea.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Just ‘wanted something to shoot’?

      It reminds me of a story I once read where a colonialist wanted to build his ranch or compound in Africa right smack in the middle of a wildebeest migration route, and did not care that it would prevent them from reaching a water source, did not care if they or other wildlife died. Such arrogance.

      Still that kind of mindset in Port Reyes!

      1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
        Maggie Frazier

        THAT whole issue really frosts me. I’ve written to everyone involved there – wrote postcards & mailed them to the parties concerned. And it infuriates me that Sen.Feinstein – DEMOCRAT – is all FOR these livestock operators! An example of true “bi-partisanship”!!!

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