Wolf Field Team Shoots Mexican Gray Wolf

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the first lethal control action on a Mexican gray wolf since the program's inception in 1998.

On May 27, Interagency Field Team personnel shot and killed Sycamore Pack alpha female 592 in New Mexico after trapping attempts to capture her were unsuccessful. The field team had the full concurrence of state and tribal partners in the decision.

The Interagency Field Team confirmed that since 2001 the female's cattle depredations resulted in four dead and five injured animals. In addition two calves are missing. Despite intensive efforts by Interagency Field Team personnel to haze her from the area where the cattle were, their efforts were unsuccessful. Although the female was secretive and elusive, the alpha male was successfully captured on May 21 and returned to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.

The most recent depredations occurred on the Schneberger ranch in southern New Mexico where the lethal take occurred. Laura Schneberger, the rancher on whose allotment the Mexican wolf was killed, says, "Our family is relieved this is over, it was extremely distressing to all of us. We appreciate what the Fish and Wildlife Service did to remove the wolf and we feel that this is a loss for everyone involved."

Schneberger commends the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel for the hard work in getting this situation under control. "In particular, one Fish and Wildlife Service employee spent the better part of a week at the ranch and had many sleepless nights trying to trap the wolf. This action was not taken lightly by anyone, especially our family."

H. Dale Hall, the southwest regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, says "This wolf demonstrated that she was prone to killing livestock and that is unacceptable behavior. The service made a commitment to the livestock industry that we would remove wolves with a history of depredations. The first step usually entails moving the wolves to another area in order to minimize livestock conflicts. However, if the wolves continue to depredate, lethal means can be taken in order to be responsive to the needs of those economically affected by wolf recovery. This situation warranted such action."