“Don’t give wolf opponents tracking frequencies”

Mexican gray wolf pups Lobos of the Southwest

July 2o, 2010

That’s the title of a recent letter to the Arizona Star.

Telemetry devices were given out to Southwestern ranchers when Mexican gray wolves were first reintroduced, apparently so ranchers would use them to keep track of any wolves approaching their cows. The USFWS handed out the telemetry to people who were no friend to the wolf. No wonder Mexican gray wolves have been so heavily poached. Did USFWS ever think for one minute this could be a disaster for the very wolves they were supposed to protect, making it easier to  find and kill them?  Apparently not.

The USFWS  should IMMEDIATELY AND WITHOUT DELAY collect every single one of those radio receivers. It’s not as if they haven’t known about this problem for years.

KTAR.com reported on the suspected abuse of radio telemetry to hunt down Mexican gray wolves back in 2008.  Fifteen conservation groups called for an investigation into  a wolf baiting incident concerning a ranch hand from the Adobe-Slash ranch, which is owned by a Mexican businessman. Cows from the ranch heavily graze the Gila National Forest, part of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. One of their ranch hands was accused of baiting wolves to trigger the  “three strikes rule”. The rule was scraped last year but it meant if a wolf was implicated in three cattle deaths, they would be killed.

From KTAR.com: Updated Jan 3, 2008 – 1:48 pm

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been looking into a December report in High Country News _ an online, independent biweekly news magazine _ that quoted an employee of Adobe-Slash Ranch in Catron County, Mike Miller, as saying, “We would sacrifice a calf to get a third strike.” The article alleged ranch hands branded cattle near the wolf’s den.

Miller denied the allegations in the article, written by contributing editor John Dougherty. High Country News editor Jonathan Thompson said the magazine stands by its story.

The conservation groups also asked for an investigation by law enforcement, with prosecution if warranted.

They also asked that radio telemetry receivers “that may be used to facilitate illegal baiting” be taken away. Telemetry receivers let ranchers know where certain radio-collared wolves are.

The high rate of wolf poaching and suspicious disappearances strongly suggests that the federal take of wolves, the telemetry receivers and other substantial steps taken by the (Fish and Wildlife) Service to conciliate the livestock industry have not resulted in reducing illegal take _ they may have contributed to the opposite result,” the letter said.”

The Center for Biological Diversity released this statement:

For Immediate Release, January 3, 2008

Contact: Michael Robinson

Conservationists Request Investigations of Reported Wolf Baiting

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Fifteen conservation groups wrote Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today requesting an independent inspector general investigationinto a reported baiting of endangered Mexican gray wolves. The baiting scheme, in which vulnerable cattle were allegedly left near a wolf den, resulted in a rare wolf being shot by the federal government.

The letter to Kempthorne states in part: “The possibility that illegal take was perpetrated through abuse of government-provided telemetry radio receivers and through taking advantage of SOP 13, the rigid predator-control protocol applied to Mexican wolves, merits thorough investigation.”

Conservationists are also requesting a law enforcement investigation, retrieval of radio telemetry receivers that may be used to facilitate illegal baiting, and release back into the wild of trapped wolves that may also have been baited on the same ranch. In addition, in separate letters to the  Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the concerned groups request the cancellation of grazing permits.

According to the December 24, 2007 High Country News article that broke the wolf-baiting story, ranch employee Mike Miller “branded cattle less than a half-mile from the wolves’ den, the enticing aroma of seared flesh surely reaching the pack’s super-sensitive nostrils. Miller was, in essence, offering up a cow as a sacrifice.” In fact, the article quotes Miller as saying: “We would sacrifice a calf to get a third strike” — referring to depredations in the so-called “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” rule governing the Mexican wolves, formally known as SOP 13. Miller is quoted in a subsequent Albuquerque Journal article as denying that he made such an admission.

The conservationists’ letters specifically seek the following actions:

• A law enforcement investigation of the incident described in the magazine High Country News, along with prosecution if merited.

• An independent inspector general investigation of whether wolves were removed from the same ranch subsequent to the Fish and       Wildlife Service learning about the alleged baiting, the granting of government telemetry receivers to the livestock industry and/or rogue county governments, and related questions.

• Cancellation of grazing and outfitting permits held by any person found to have baited wolves. (The foreign-owned ranch where the incident is alleged to have taken place holds multiple Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state grazing permits.)

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2008/mexican-wolves-01-03-2008.html

It’s been two years and the USFWS still hasn’t addressed this issue, which threatens the lives of endangered wolves under their care.  AND cattle still roam in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area? Isn’t it time to start pulling grazing leases?

America is in danger of losing a wolf sub-species forever, due in part to prior misguided policies. These wolves belong to all Americans, not just a few wolf haters who want them gone from the Southwest.

Please keep the Hawks Nest alpha female in your thoughts. She is alone, in that vast landscape, with seven pups and one female yearling wolf to help raise them. Her mate and a yearling male from the pack were shot to death by a heartless, brutal poacher.  This is a war on Mexican gray wolves and it must be stopped.

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Don’t give wolf opponents tracking frequencies

Letters to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 4:00 am

http://www.azdailysun.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_0e007b6d-61ba-5fa4-b2aa-bcbd8f59befe.html

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The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the party responsible in the shooting death of the Hawks Nest wolf. Coupled with the government’s reward, the total amount offered is now up to $54,500.

$50,000 REWARD

For information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally killing a Mexican Gray Wolf.

Or transporting Mexican wolf hides or parts.

Contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

at any of the following numbers:

(480) 967-7900 [Mesa AZ]

(928) 339-4232 [Alpine, AZ]

(505) 346-7828 [Albuquerque, NM]

Or call your local state Game and Fish office:

Arizona (800) 352-0700 New Mexico (800) 862-9310

POSTED BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS & PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS

REPRESENTING MILLIONS OF CONCERNED CITIZENS.

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Photo: Courtesy Lobos of the Southwest

Posted in: Mexican gray wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: radio telemetry receivers, poaching/pond-scum, Hawks Nest Pack, Paradise Pack, San Mateo Pack

Poachers Tracking Mexican Grays With Radio Receivers?

Hawks Nest in The Wild

July 17, 2010

The feds are finally waking up to the fact the radio receivers they handed out to ranchers just might be linked to the wolves deaths.

Ya think?  Lets see, the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is FOUR MILLION ACRES and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, where wolves are welcome, is another 1.67 million acres.

That’s the size of  THREE YELLOWSTONES.  How in the heck does anyone find just 38 wolves in two states if they aren’t tracking their collars?  Wake up federal wolf managers.  This is a no brainer.

From The Arizona Star:

“Environmentalists are pushing the feds – “as a precaution” – to take back the radios loaned to ranchers and others in Arizona and New Mexico that allow the wolves to be tracked.”

Take those radio receivers away from the ranchers. Most of the land in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is public land.  If ranchers are found responsible, besides prosecuting them to the full extent of the law, start pulling grazing leases!

This is HOME TO A CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES.  HELLO!!

It’s not business as usual down there…there are only 38 animals left in the wild, that’s it. The unique genes of every wolf killed is lost forever.

The Hawks Nest alpha female has been  left to raise seven pups with just herself and a yearling wolf. That’s all that’s left of the pack. I hope USFWS is feeding this pack or providing them with food because these pups won’t last long.  The entire situation is egregious beyond words.

Wolves lives are cheap now. Maybe the poachers were taking a page out of the Northern Rockies play book.  They know wolves were slaughtered in the hundreds since their delisting.  What’s one more dead wolf to them?

Mexican gray wolves can’t get any protection when they are listed as the most endangered mammal in North America. How pathetic is that?

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Gray wolf shot in AZ; officials probe use of radio tracking

http://azstarnet.com/news/science/environment/article_24e57a2a-492b-5adf-8ed8-d5940a1bc277.html

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The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the party responsible in the shooting death of the Hawks Nest wolf. Coupled with the government’s reward, the total amount offered is now up to $54,500.

$50,000 REWARD

For information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally killing a Mexican Gray Wolf.

Or transporting Mexican wolf hides or parts.

Contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

at any of the following numbers:

(480) 967-7900 [Mesa AZ]

(928) 339-4232 [Alpine, AZ]

(505) 346-7828 [Albuquerque, NM]

Or call your local state Game and Fish office:

Arizona (800) 352-0700 New Mexico (800) 862-9310

POSTED BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS & PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS

REPRESENTING MILLIONS OF CONCERNED CITIZENS.

Photo: Courtesy USFWS

Posted in: Mexican gray wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: Hawks Nest Pack, dead wolf, pups, poachers, reward, radio receivers culprit?

Mexican Gray Wolves On The Brink!

July 4, 2010

As I reported previously, three Mexican gray wolves are dead or missing.

The Hawks Nest alpha male was discovered shot to death on June 18 in eastern Arizona. The Hawks Nest pack was one of just two packs who had a surviving pup at the end of 2009. To add to the tragedy, last week the alpha male of the San Mateo pack in New Mexico was found dead under a cloud of suspicion. And the alpha male of the Paradise Pack, who roamed the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, has been missing since the middle of April.

The Hawks Nest Pack is believed to have seven pups, now fatherless. The other two packs were observed denning, so they probably have pups. Both the Paradise and San Mateo packs are down to just one adult, the alpha female and any pups she may have. Now they are alone with  no other wolves to help them.

A captive Mexican gray wolf pup is held by a keeper to be weighed
at the Endangered  Wolf Center in St. Louis.
 
This pup is one of  five eight week old pups, four boys and one girl.  Will they survive in the wild?  
Photo Courtesy: Tom Gannam / Associated Press

Mexican gray wolves are the most endangered mammals in North America, with only 14 wolves in New Mexico and now just 25 wolves in Arizona.

From Lobos of the Southwest:

“The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Apache National Forest in Arizona and part of New Mexico—comprising 4.4 million acres (twice the size of Yellowstone National Park), which support an extraordinary array of wildlife and vegetation types. In addition, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has welcomed wolves onto its 1.67-million-acre reservation in Arizona adjoining the national forest.”

This sad little tale has been going on since the late seventies, when a captive breeding program was started because the Mexican gray wolf was technically extinct in the wild, the result of a hundred years of persecution.The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan was adopted in 1982.

In 1998 captive born wolves were released into Arizona and New Mexico. Before reintroduction began the US Fish and Wildlife Service projected 102 wolves, including 18 breeding pairs, would be thriving on their historical range by 2006, with numbers expected to rise thereafter. That was four years ago and twelve years have gone by since their release. Not only are there not 100 Mexican gray wolves in the wild but there now are only 39, deducting the recent losses.

The three legged alphas of the highly endangered Middle Fork Pack  are up against a sea of cattle in the Gila National Forest.

Middle Fork three-legged alphas

Both alphas lost their left front legs. Alpha female AF861, leg was shot to bits, that case is still being investigated. Alpha male AM871 lost his limb to a leg hold trap. Despite their handicaps they were still able to hunt and raise pups!!   

Many of the cows in the Gila belong to the Adobe/Slash Ranch, which is owned by a Mexican businessman. 

One of their ranch hands was actually caughtbaiting wolves, to get them in trouble and cause the three strikes rule to kick in. 

Finally in 2009 the  USFWS  Settled 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.”

Since the three strikes rule was scrapped it looked like the beleaguered wolves would have a fighting chance to start their long-awaited recovery. That was until they counted them in 2009.  Their numbers plummeted from 52 to 42 wolves. Ten wolves lost, two confirmed shot and six more likely shot.

“The decline is “tremendously disconcerting and very disturbing,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional director for the Southwest.

An unusually poor survival rate among wolf pups appeared to play a key role in last year’s population decline, officials indicated. Thirty-one pups were born last year in seven wolf packs. Seven survived, the wildlife service said.”

Two wolves were confirmed to have been shot to death last year. Tuggle said he is not ruling out the possibility that the other six dead wolves were shot. Those deaths are under law enforcement investigation.

“USFWS relies on captive wolves being reintroducedand pup survival to maintain or increase the population. With the loss of four pups to probable poaching. a poor pup survival rate and no reintroductions in 2009, the wolf population declined significantly.”

I think it’s safe to assume the other six wolves were the victims of foul play. There is tremendous intolerance for wolves in the Southwest.  Big surprise. The same attitudes that plague wolves here in the Northern Rockies are mirrored there.

How pathetic, in the expanse of Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which encompasses the Gila and Apache National Forests, over 4.4 million acres, there isn’t a place for 39 wolves, much less a hundred? There’s plenty of room for cattle though. And that’s the problem.

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.”

USFWS better figure out how to help these animals survive before they go extinct in the wild AGAIN!  Every single wolf is a national treasure to be protected. USFWS needs to aggressively go after the low life poachers, slapping them with long jail sentences and huge fines. Otherwise it will be business as usual, wolves shot and killed and their killers walking free. If those pathetic excuses for human beings think they can shoot a wolf and get away with it, what incentive do they have to stop?

Aside from the cretin poachers, until recently it was the USFWS themselves that was getting in the way of wolf recovery, with their heavy-handed “wolf management” measures, that got many wolves killed over livestock. The USFWS killed 151 Mexican gray wolves since their reintroduction, including over 20 puppies. That is simply outrageous.

Here are the grim statistics of Mexican gray wolves killed by USFWS since 1998.

Mexican wolf management removals from the Blue Range Population, Arizona and New Mexico, 1998-2010.

http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/pdf/MW_removals.pdf

If those wolves were alive today, what a difference it could have made in Mexican gray wolf recovery. We might be at 100 wolves instead of 39.

Lobos of the Southwest states:

“Wolves have done what is needed to thrive in the wild: They have formed packs, had pups and successfully hunted elk and deer.

Unfortunately, the recovery effort has failed to reach the first reintroduction objective of at least 100 wolves in the wild. Until recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s aggressive wolf “control” measures repeatedly knocked the population down. The wild population of Mexican gray wolves has declined over the past five years, and at the end of 2008, only about 50 wolves lived in the wilds of the Southwest. The wild population was lower at the beginning of 2009 than it was at the end of 2003.”

Time is running out for wolves in the Southwest. The loss of the three alpha males is beyond measure. The Hawks Nest pack have seven pups and the Paradise and San Mateo packs are believed to have pups. The poachers disrupted the social structure of three wolf packs who may never be the same again. Even though USFWS is supplementing the diet of the San Mateo and Paradise Packs, losing their fathers is a huge blow. You can hardly call them packs anymore. It’s just the alpha females alone with their puppies.

It’s obvious drastic measure need to be taken. Even though the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is prime wolf habitat, most of the land is heavily grazed by cattle.

Many Southwest ranchers don’t want wolves or any predators around for that matter. USFWS should think about moving or widening the wolves range to a more wolf friendly environment.

Why not expand the wolves recovery area outside the Gila and Apache National Forests to Grand Canyon National Parkfor starters? Or start retiring grazing leases.

It’s ridiculous cattle are causing wolves to die, especially since 94% of the Blue Range Recovery Area is public land.

The status quo won’t cut it anymore. The wolves have been struggling ever since their reintroduction in 1998. It’s going to take a major effort by Fish and Wildlife to protect these wolves and allow them to finally make their long-awaited recovery. Poaching has to be stopped. Hopefully the $50,000 reward will be enough to rat out the killer!!

Please contact:

US Department of the Interior
http://www.doi.gov/public/contact-us.cfm

USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Program
http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/comments_form.html

Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program
http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/

New Mexico Department of Fish and Game
http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/contact/index.htm

Arizona Fish and Game Dept.
http://www.azgfd.gov/comments.shtml

From Lobos of the Southwest:

Editors in Arizona and New Mexico

Regional/National

http://www.mexicanwolves.org/index.php?page=letters-to-editors

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Upper Photo: Courtesy National Geographic

Middle Fork Pack Photos: Courtesy USFWS

Posted in: Mexican gray wolves,  gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: Hawks Nest Pack, critically endangered species, Paradise Pack,  San Mateo Pack, Arizona, New Mexico, low life poachers,  $50,000 reward

Some hope:

Five new Mexican gray wolf pups at St. Louis facility represent new hope for their species

July 1, 2010

 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/07/five-new-mexican-gray-wolf-pups-at-st-louis-facility-represent-new-hope-for-their-species.html

 
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