More Wolves Scheduled For Release in Gila Wilderness

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Another pack of endangered Mexican wolves is scheduled for release in the Gila Wilderness in late June, reports the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and its cooperators in wolf restoration in the Southwest.

This is the second release of wolves in the Gila this year. The first pack was released April 8. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish incorrectly reported a pair of wolves also would be released April 17, but that did not occur.

The wolf release scheduled for June would more than double the population of eight wolves now residing in New Mexico and it will be the fourth pack in the state.

New Mexico's newest pack includes a pair of six-year-old alpha wolves, male 509 and female 511, and four of their wild-born offspring (m798, f799, f800 and m801). Also making the trip into the Gila Wilderness via mule will be five seven-week-old pups born to 511 while she was held in captivity at the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico.

"The wolf specialists feel comfortable moving pups once they are six weeks old because they are almost weaned at that age," said Chuck Hayes, assistant chief of Conservation Services for the Department.

The wolves will be placed in a rope net pen and are expected to chew their way out of it, sometimes within hours.

These wolves were previously released and recaptured in Arizona. They are called the Francisco Pack and were removed from the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the San Carlos tribe recently signed a cooperative agreement allowing wolf management and monitoring on the reservation; however, under its current resolution, the Tribe continues to request removal of all wolves from the reservation. In compliance with the resolution, the Francisco pack was removed.

"This is a group of wolves, not the whole pack, but a group of wolves that learned to survive in the wild away from human habitation and urban areas," Hayes said. "They have been very productive in terms of bringing off pups and making a contribution to the wild population. From that point of view, they are very valuable."

Wolf 511 and 509 were among the original wolves released when the recovery effort started in 1998. They are from the McBride lineage, descendants of wolves captured in Mexico more than 30 years ago by predator specialist Roy McBride for the recovery program initiated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.