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For The Wolf

Wolf Moon Dancer
by Nancy Wood Taber

I will try to keep you updated on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.

The objective of the Mexican wolf recovery plan is to re-establish about 100 wolves in the Apache and Gila National Forests by releasing wolf pairs or family groups each year for about 5 years.

The wolf management team follows an adaptive management approach, meaning that future management decisions are based on evaluations of past results and new information. This allows agency managers to be responsive to unexpected events and emerging public concerns. Thus the numbers of wolves to be released and the timing of releases are periodically reviewed and adjusted. An example of this approach was the release of the two females in December to replace the lost mates of the two remaining males.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

Updat 6/24/99

On Tuesday, June 22, an injured calf was discovered on the T-Link ranch by the ranch manager. The ranch is located about 16 miles north of Clifton, Arizona.

Alan Armistead, USDA Wildlife Services, the wolf team's depredation specialist, examined the calf's wounds the same day and concluded that they were consistent with a wolf attack. The wounds consisted of bites and scrapes on various parts of the calf's body. The calf is expected to recover from the injuries.

This depredation incident occurred in the same area where, on June 15 and 16, wolf team biologists discovered the mostly consumed remains of two calves and a partially consumed adult cow that died after its left hind leg became tangled in the strands of a barbed wire fence. The livestock manager was immediately notified and participated in field investigations. The cause of death of these three animals could not be determined from the evidence present. Tracks of coyotes and wolves were found in the area, and one or both species fed on the livestock carcasses. Monitoring by field personnel confirmed the wolves were present in the area on June 14-18 and again on June 21. Currently an investigation is being conducted into the death of another calf found on June 24 in the Pipestem Pack's territory.

Monitoring of the Pipestem Pack's activities has been intensified and the wolves' locations will be determined at least every four hours--day and night. Biologists will attempt to haze wolves away if potential conflict situations arise. Supplemental food is being provided near the pack's den site.

Biologists recently confirmed the presence of pups born in the wild to the Pipestem Pack. The number of pups has not been determined. This is the second litter of pups produced in the wild by released Mexican wolves. The surviving pup from last year's litter disappeared shortly after its mother was illegally shot last August. There are no immediate plans to move the Pipestem Pack

The livestock manager plans to move the cows with calves to a distant pasture. "This extra effort by the livestock manager to help resolve wolf-livestock conflicts is greatly appreciated by the agencies and epitomizes the kind of cooperation we have experienced from local citizens since the beginning of the wolf reintroduction project," said David Parsons, Mexican Wolf Recovery Leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We are attempting to discourage this sort of prey selection by the wolves, so they don't pass this selection pattern to the pups," said Bill Van Pelt, Arizona Game and Fish Department Nongame Mammals Program Manager.

"Working to resolve conflicts between wolves and livestock is the best way to work toward the recovery of this extremely imperiled species," said Nancy Kaufman, USFWS Region 2 Director.

The Pipestem Pack was released on March 15, 1999. The pack consists of the adult male and female, a yearling female, and this year's wild-born pups. More than 24 Mexican wolves representing five separate packs are currently roaming free in the Apache National Forest in Arizona--nearly triple the number of wolves that were free-ranging this time last year. Most documented predation by the wolves has been on natural prey, primarily elk.

Defenders of Wildlife, a non-governmental wildlife conservation organization, will offer compensation to the livestock owner, as is their policy when the loss or injury of domestic livestock is caused or possibly caused by wolves.

The first confirmed depredation incident occurred in May 1998 when a yearling female Mexican wolf from the Campbell Blue pack dispersed outside the recovery area and attacked a miniature horse colt. That wolf was returned to captivity, and Defenders of Wildlife compensated the colt's owner for veterinary expenses. The colt recovered from its injuries. Defenders of Wildlife has also compensated animal owners in the wolf recovery area for the death of a ranch dog and the injury of another dog following a fight with a wolf.

Agencies working together to restore the Mexican wolf to the Apache National Forest include the Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA - Wildlife Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service.

If you would like more information on the Mexican Grey wolf Recovery Project, please use the link below.

Mexican Grey Wolf Recovery Information Page

Updated information on the Mexican Grey Wolf

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