Cause of Death of Mexican Wolf in Arizona Determined to be Lightning

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel at the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Oregon have determined the cause of death for a Mexican wolf found dead in August in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) of eastern Arizona. Necropsy test results revealed it was killed by a lightning strike. The wolf, known as AF1110, was the alpha female for the Hawks Nest Pack.

Members of the Interagency Field Team (IFT) were initially alerted to the situation when they received a mortality signal from the animal’s telemetry collar during a routine survey. Upon investigating the site the following day, they located and recovered the carcass in an open meadow containing standing water. There were frequent, strong thunderstorms in this area during the latter part of August.

The Hawks Nest Pack was one of three packs in Arizona directly affected by the Wallow Fire this past summer – the largest wildfire on record in Arizona. The fire burned over the pack’s primary den site in June. However, AF1110 and other pack members were able to move the pups-of-the-year to a safer area nearby. The IFT documented that AF1110 produced at least six pups this year.

Current surviving pack members include adult male AM1038, juvenile female f1208, and two pups wearing telemetry collars – male pup mp1244 and female pup fp1247. At least one other pup is currently traveling with the pack. Another yearling male captured and collared by the IFT in October, m1248, is alive, but no longer traveling with the pack. AM1038 is most likely the sire of the pups produced by the Hawks Nest Pack this year. The pups are weaned and have been traveling with the other pack members throughout the pack’s territory on the ASNF.

AF1110 was one of the most consistent breeding females in the reintroduction project over the past few years. The breeding male from the Hawks Nest Pack was illegally killed in 2010, but AF1110 apparently established a bond with AM1038 earlier this year. AM1038 had previously been the breeding male for the Fox Mountain Pack in New Mexico. Its telemetry collar apparently ceased working effectively, as the IFT last located the collar signal in December 2009 during a routine aerial telemetry flight. This past October, the IFT located AM1038 once again, but now traveling with the other Hawks Nest members in the pack’s traditional territory.

Mexican wolf reintroduction in the Southwest is a joint effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services, and other stakeholders.


Better Game

At the risk of being unpopular for not jumping in on the Big Bad Wolf rants... when there are healthy predators, the game populations improve.  This is because predators go after the easy prey.  The sick, old and injured.  That strengthens the heard and produces more trophy animals.

cowgal's picture

That's just an old wives

That's just an old wives tale, buckaroo. Too many videos show packs of wolves taking down TROPHY sized elk! They do not look sick or injured. Wolves run in packs and take out whatever they want to, doesn't matter if it's sick or injured. How about livestock?  

Read up on what's going on in Montana and Idaho. Areas are completely devoid of deer and elk, due to excessive predation. They have a huge struggle on their hands trying to knock the wolf population down. 

Retired2hunt's picture

  See even Zeus doesn't like


See even Zeus doesn't like wolves!  Or he just had a left over tag from another state and used it on this poor wolf!

Seriously - BikerRN I couldn't agree with you more.  I have read here on this web site the Mexican reintroduction of that specific wolf species and how the plan is for more and to include a management plan.  I think the focus needs to be on the existing populations of animals and allow Mexico to create their own reintroduction management plan that only affects Mexico and anything out side of that country becomes a feral animal with a shoot to kill order.  Heck I didn't even know Mexico had a department equal to our DNR/DOW.

Just my opinion here.  

BikerRN's picture

Not A Bad Thing

I realize that I am in the minority but I do not view the death of this wolf as a bad thing.

The Mexican Grey Wolf used to populate that portion of Arizona and New Mexico but it was at the northern limit of it's range. Why not introduce it in an area where it was more prevalent in it's heyday first? According to what I've learned it's home range was south of our current United States and Mexican border.

I have learned that Mexico has, or is planning to, released some Grey Wolves in Mexico. I just wonder how long before they are found shot? As far as I'm concerned the era of the wolf has passed. My ancestors used to shoot them and are partly responsible for the dwindling number of wolves back in the day. For this I make no apology.

I can't help but fear this will turn in to a fiasco given what's happened in Idaho, Montana, and other states north of me. As far as I'm concerned the wolf has no place in Arizona and I will not be sorry that this one met it's demise.

Instead of wasting money on wolf reintroduction Arizona should be managing game animals and opening up new hunting opportunities for it's residents not pandering to the "save the wolf" crowd. I do not see Arizona as planning to allow it's residents to hunt wolves in the near future and the toll wolves take on ranchers and elk/deer herds is too costly in my opinion.


hunter25's picture

I know this is a bad thing

I know this is a bad thing and I hate to see one go this way but I have a hard time supporting the wolves anywhere. These are different than thier northern cousins but could still turn into a problem in the future. There are not as many of them down there but then there isn't as much game either so damage could spiral quickly if not watched closely. The other thing is how much money that gets spent on programs like this with in my opinion no real benefit to the public.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Better watch out, PETA will

Better watch out, PETA will probably sue God for hitting that endangered wolf with lightning!!!! Wink

Seriously though, even though I believe wolves need to be controlled, and not protected, It is still sad to see this happen in such a manner.  And, to top it off, it's the alpha female.  The mexican grey wolf is more endangered than any of it's northern counterparts, I believe, so it could be a big hit to the pack to see her removed.

Hopefully another female will take her place in the heirarchy and they will continue to thrive there.