More Complaining About Mexican Gray Wolves From Ranchers

Here we go again.  Ranchers in the Southwest can’t tolerate 52 Mexican Gray wolves.  How pathetic is this?  In the expanse of New Mexico and Arizona there is no place for wolves to recover?

This is what happens when the feds cater to ranchers. They will never be happy.  And they know that most of their cattle losses come from disease, reproduction and weather.  But it makes good PR to keep hammering the wolves. Sad enough both the Middle Fork Pack alphas in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest have only three legs each, one lost to a bullet and the other to a leg hold trap…and they’re RAISING PUPPIES!! 

Settling a lawsuit brought by conservation organizations, the Fish and Wildlife Service reasserted its authority over a multiagency management team and scrapped a controversial wolf “control” rule that required permanently removing a wolf from the wild, either lethally or through capture, after killing three livestock in a year. Conservationists had criticized the rigid policy, known as Standard Operating Procedure 13 or SOP 13, for forcing wolves to be killed or sent to captivity regardless of an individual wolf’s genetic importance, dependent pups or the critically low numbers of wolves in the wild.

At last count in January 2009, there were just 52 Mexican gray wolves and only two breeding pairs in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. Another count will take place in January 2010. Before reintroduction began in 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service had projected 102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs by the end of 2006, with numbers expected to rise thereafter.

Well it’s almost 2010 and the feds have failed miserably to re-establish the Mexican Gray wolf.  Twelve years have gone by and there are still only 52 wolves because people keep shooting them!!  Wildlife Services has taken them out, they’ve been shot illegally, baited.

Bud Fazio is now heading the Mexican Gray wolf program.  I believe he ran the Red Wolf program successfully in the Carolina’s.  He has his work cut out for him!!   

I say stop limiting the wolves recovery to a few small areas.  How about Grand Canyon National Park for starters? Let’s think outside the box here.  The highly endangered Middle Fork Pack with their three legged alphas are surrounded by a sea of cattle in the Gila.

 Michael Robinson of  the Center for Biological Diversity states: 

“Lackadaisical Forest Service management, severe grazing during drought, trespass stock, and scattered carcasses of cattle that died of non-wolf causes which draw wolves in to scavenge, all guarantee continued conflicts between wolves and livestock,” pointed out Robinson.

“Preventing conflicts with livestock on the national forests makes more sense than scapegoating endangered wolves once conflicts begin,” said Robinson.”

The Beaverhead area has a history of wolves scavenging on carcasses of cattle that they had not killed, and then subsequently beginning to hunt live cattle. This spring, the Center for Biological Diversity documented sixteen dead cattle, none of them with any signs of wolf predation, within a few miles of the Middle Fork’s den site.

Independent scientists have repeatedly recommended that owners of livestock using the public lands be required to remove or render unpalatable (as by lime, for example) the carcasses of cattle and horses that die of non-wolf causes — such as starvation, disease or poisonous weeds — before wolves scavenge on them and then switch from preying on elk to livestock. No such requirements have been implemented.”

So ranchers just turn their cattle loose, cattle die, not from wolves but their carcasses aren’t removed.  What does this teach wolves?  Are they gong to pass up a free meal to scavage on dead cows, which only teaches them to feed on cattle.   

It always comes back to livestock when discussing wolves.  We need a new paradigm. Here’s a thought,  get the cattle off our public lands, especially since rules are being broken by not removing dead cows. Then maybe wolves can thrive without a gun to their heads.

When will ranchers realize that wolf recovery in the Southwest is not all about them.  I wish the feds would  put the wolves first for once.  Is that too much to ask??


Wolf recovery at crossroads in the Southwest

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press Writer Sun Dec 6, 4:16 pm ET

All Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Mexican Gray Wolf, wolf recovery, Wolf Wars, Public land degredation by livestock

Tags: wolf recovery,  Wildlife Services, wolves in the crossfire


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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi, read your post — I just one wrote too, looks like it’s showing up under your auto-generated posts (Re-Imagining Mex wolf recovery). I agree with your points about the need for a range expansion. But this needs to be met while also taking into account the sociological constraints (e.g. rural opposition) and the possibility of Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up acts (which need a lot more law enforcement attention & some prosecutions). We’ll see what Fazio can do… he did great with NC’s red wolves, but there are no livestock in the C. rufus restoration area.


    • Hi Delene,
      I agree there needs to be more enforcement of SSS. These wolves are beleagered. But I was just thinking outside the box on this one because the Gila is full of cattle and it seems they need to find other areas they could recover. Grand Canyon National Park seems like a great place for them to roam Not sure about the prey levels there but they would stand a better chance without having to worry about the ranchers who hate them. Fazio definitely has his work cut out for him!!


  2. Love the Barry Lopez quote at the right side above nabeki!!! Love it.


    • Hi g…
      It is an amazing quote. Just goes to show you what a little wolf education could do. Think if FWP would spend some of their budget on really educating kids about wolves instead of spending so much time radio collaring and tracking wolves 24/7, just to try and catch them doing something. Our hope is with the children…so they wont’t grow up to hate wolves but to see their beauty.

      For the wild ones,


  3. As someone living here in the desert southwest and in the middle of the Mexican grey wolf recovery area, let me give some insight. The problem with this program is it has been a failure from its inception. The reason for this is twofold. One is the habitat in the wilderness will not support large predators. This region is virtually devoid of a consistent game species due to 60 years of fire mismanagement. This is improving in recent years but will take years to normalize. Secondly is the wolves that are being released have been habitualized to humans. They have no inborn fear of man. They consistently end up around habituated areas. This is evident by where almost all the wolf deaths have occurred either legally or otherwise. People want to demonize the rancher but they also need to realize the best prey habitat for both deer and elk are where waters and habitat are maintained for cattle. Take the rancher out of the equation and the habitat will continue to degrade for both deer and elk.

    So in my modest opinion if they ever want to be successful several things need to happen. First and foremost, habitat improvement. Second improve the breeding program where larger numbers of wolves can be released. Third quit babysitting the released wolves. Let them live or die on their own. Those that survive will teach their offspring how to survive on their own. Quit protecting them. If they come around houses they should be shot. Those that survive will have a natural inborn fear of man and will stay away from humans. I know this isn’t popular but it is the only way long term to succeed.



    • Hi Scott,
      I agree and disagree with you on two points. I agree their habitat needs to expand. I’ve suggested Grand Canyon National Park, etc. Their range is too small. Having said that I will disagree with you on the ranchers and their impact. First you have to consider that the recovery goal was 100 wolves in ten years. Well here it is 2009, two years after the so called goal and there are still 52 wolves in two large states like Arizona and New Mexico.

      Secondly, the Middle Fork Pack roams the Gila, they are surrounded by cattle. This is a national forest..the wolf should not have to compete with cows on public land. Ranchers are supposed to get rid of dead cattle, not killed by wolves by using lime. Instead they leave the carcasses to rot and the wolves end up eating them and get used to eating cattle. Get the cattle out of the Gila and all public land for that matter. The Adobe/Slash Ranch is a of the ranch hands tried to bait a wolf a few years ago to invoke the three strikes rule, thankfully that rule has been rescinded.

      Also both alphas of the Middle Fork Pack in the Gila each have three legs. One lost to a bullet and one to a leg hold trap. They are raising puppies and hunting elk!! These wolves NEED PROTECTION. Even with protection it’s going to take a miracle to recover them if the SSS crowd doesn’t stop shooting them.

      The Mexican Gray wolves are probably the most endangered animals in North America…they need all the help they can get. As for the captive breeding program, they are doing a good job. This is all hard work to get this species recovered.



  4. Scott’s comment about being able to shoot the wolves is a very common one… I did an interviewing project in this area and talked at length to ranchers and residents, and it’s a widely held belief that the wolves need to be “taught” to fear people and residences. The problem with this is that with such an incredibly small population, it would decimate them to do this. The huge issue is how to get the numbers up to the point where some of these more heavy-handed management proposals won’t seem so laughable from an ecological/population dynamics standpoint. With that said, the environmentalists and the conservationists do need to pay more attention to the ranchers and residents assertions about bold wolves. If you are able to go to any livestock meetings or talk to people that run the Wolf Crossings web site, you will see quite a few pictures of wolves approaching horses, people, back porches and so on. It can be a messy problem for some people. But again, if the management can get the numbers up to the point where they don’t have to do releases from captivity, this problem will go away. It’s getting over that critical population hump that matters most. And Nabeki, I do not completely agree that the sociological considerations will be all that different if the GCNP/Kaibab National Forest is used. Just my humble opinion though.


    • Hi Delene,
      I’m aware of the mindset about “teaching wolves a lesson” but the fact is wolves kill very few livestock. In 2005 domestic dogs and vultures killed more cattle then wolves. The reason the problem looks bigger is the focus FWP, IDFG, Arizona and New Mexico Fish and Game puts on it with their collaring programs. They follow wolves every move so when they do kill a cow or sheep, they pounce on them in their tit-for-tit management. I believe 100 wolves were killed for 200 cows in Montana in 2008. That is simply ridiculous. Predators kill 0.87% of cattle and the predator that does most of the killing is the coyote, 97,000 in 05 but even those are tiny numbers of the over 100,000,000 cattle that trample our public and private lands. Over 90% of cattle die from reproduction, disease and weather. So this argument about wolves constantly killing cattle is specious.

      Secondly we need to get the livestock off our public lands…especially the government run Sheep Experiment Station that sits right in the middle of an important wildlife corridor. The Sage Creek Pack roamed that area and are now dead at the hands of WS. They originally got into trouble for killing one sheep from that station. Our public lands are being decimated by cattle yet only environmentalists are speaking out about it…because the ranchers like the cheap grazing. They can just dump their cows and sheep out in the midldle of no where unatteneded and then cry wolf when one of their cows gets eaten. These are the sloppy ranching practices that are going on and the wolf pays the ultimate price with it’s life.

      My solution? Stop radio collaring wolves and all this nonsense will stop. As for wolves approaching horses, people, etc. That is so rare..I’ve lived in the heart of the Continental Divide for many years and I can count the times I’ve seen a wild wolf on my fingers. I hear them all the time howling but this is not the Lamarr Valley with wide open spaces, we are surrounded by mountains. I’ve seen way more grizzlies then wolves. Wolves are reclusive, shy and do not like people. I certainly can’t blame them.

      The Mexican Gray wolf population is so small I can’t believe the amount of complaining from ranchers over them. The reason their population has not grown in 12 years is people keep shooting them. It’s no accident that both alphas in the Middle Fork Pack have three legs, one lost to a leg hold trap and the other to a bullet. I would have to say ranchers in the Southwest are even more intolerant then ranchers here in the Northern Rockies and that’s saying something. In my opinion the feds have to be wolf advocates and not ranching advocates.

      My suggestion of Grand Canyon National Park was just to expand their range because at present their recovery area is small. Ranchers are the ones that need to learn tolerance and start using their own land to graze their cattle and not our public lands like the Gila National forest that is crawling with cows. I have very little tolerance for ranching complaints as you can probably tell.

      Thanks for reading the blog. I visited your website today and love the lily pads, they remind me of my childhood, always looking for the frogs either on the lily pads or under them.



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