Cattle-Killing Mexican Wolf Shot

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A Mexican wolf that was involved in at least three livestock killings in the past year was shot and killed May 28 by a member of the wolf recovery team. A permanent removal order for the lone male wolf was issued May 24 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after the wolf was confirmed to have killed a cow in southeastern Catron County, New Mexico.

In the past two weeks, nine Mexican wolves have died during removal efforts resulting from livestock depredations. May 24, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported that seven wolves -- an adult female and six very young pups -- removed from the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona died after they were trapped and moved to holding pens. The alpha male wolf of that pack was shot and killed.

Wolves in the recovery program are designated as a “non-essential experimental population,” which allows the recovery team greater flexibility to manage the wolves under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The designation permits permanent removal of a wolf, either by capture or lethal means, following three confirmed livestock deaths.

“We continue to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare federal rule changes that will promote more effective recovery areas and diminish the likelihood of problem wolves in New Mexico,” Department of Game and Fish Director Bruce Thompson said.

The rules of the wolf restoration program prevent direct releases of wolves into New Mexico that have not been previously captured for management purposes.

The recovery team also announced that three Mexican wolves, an adult male and two female yearlings, will be released in early June in the Gila Wilderness. The male wolf was captured and removed from the wild in 2005 after it was involved in a livestock death. The females were removed from the wild in 2005 as a result of cattle depredations by the adults within the pack.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates there are 32 to 46 endangered Mexican wolves living in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico since the reintroduction program began in 1998. To view the wolf distribution map, which contains the most recent three months of wolf locations taken from aerial surveys, please visit the Arizona Game & Fish Web site, and scroll to the “distribution” link on the “Mexican Wolf Conservation and Management” page.