Sunday, 6 January 2019

Record number of Mexican gray wolves found dead in 2018


December 13, 2018 by Susan Montoya Bryan
In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a Mexican gray wolf leaves cover at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro County, N.M. Wildlife managers have confirmed that a record number of Mexican …more
Wildlife managers have confirmed a record number of Mexican gray wolves have been reported dead this year, fueling concerns about the decades-long effort to return the endangered predator to the southwestern U.S.
Five wolves were found dead in New Mexico in November, bringing the total for the year to 17. That marks the most wolves killed in any single year since the reintroduction effort began in 1998, and it's one of the deadliest months in the program's history.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating but hasn't said how the animals died.
The dead wolves include a female pup, two male wolves and the leaders of two packs—one that roams the mountainous area along the Arizona-New Mexico border and another that lives in the north-central portion of the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.
"The very small population of Mexican gray wolves in the wild cannot sustain this level of mortality for long," said Bryan Bird, the Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must immediately get a handle on the losses and resume releases of captive-bred wolf families."
Members of the wolf reintroduction field team pointed to the larger population of wolves in the wild in 2018, saying the percentage of mortalities this year is actually less than in some past years when there were fewer wolves roaming parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
The lower percentage for 2018 indicates more of the wild population is surviving, which they say is a good sign.
All this comes as ranchers continue to report conflicts. In November, federal authorities documented six instances in which wolves killed cattle, and there were two nuisance reports.

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