Necropsy Results Show Mexican Wolf in Arizona Died from Illegal Gunshot; Reward Offered for Information

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The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore., has determined that Mexican wolf mp1242 died as the result of a gunshot wound.

On Nov. 23, 2011, Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel on the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) were contacted by a member of the public who reported seeing an injured Mexican wolf in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests south of Big Lake, Ariz. The IFT located and observed the wolf the next day by tracking its radio collar signal. They identified it as mp1242, a young male that was born earlier in 2011 into the Bluestem Pack. After confirming the wolf was injured, the IFT initiated efforts to capture the animal and evaluate its injury.

The IFT captured mp1242 on Dec. 3 and found that it had an injured rear leg and was in poor body condition. In phone consultation with a veterinarian, project personnel attempted to implement life-saving measures en route to the veterinarian office, but the wolf died of its injuries.

“I am disappointed and concerned by this news of another wolf dying due to gunshot wounds,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “It is hard for me to rationalize the illegal killing of these wolves or any other endangered species. They are the natural heritage we are hoping to leave to future generations.”

“We are bringing the full weight of the law to bear on these illegal activities and will continue to focus on this impediment to recovery,” said Tuggle.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement agents, in collaboration with Arizona Game and Fish, have opened an investigation. All of the Service’s available regional law enforcement resources are being utilized.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for any information leading to the apprehension of the individual or individuals who may be responsible for the death of this wolf. Individuals who have information are urged to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement in Albuquerque, N.M. at (505) 346-7828 or in Alpine, Ariz. at (928) 339-4232, or the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700. Killing a Mexican gray wolf is a violation of the Endangered Species Act, punishable by up to a $100,000 fine and/or up to a year in prison.

Mexican wolf reintroduction 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, including Graham, Greenlee and Navajo Counties in Arizona.