Local & Regional News

Should We Welcome Wolves in Northern Arizona? Yes, Says Recovery Group; No, Say Officials

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted August 29, 2021 by Sam McManis

He was a lone wolf. He roamed and rambled. He lit out west and north, away from the pack, going his own way. His pursuers, bipeds with a helicopter and fancy tracking equipment, followed. But he eluded them until, inevitably, they closed in.

Is there anything more romantic, more iconic, more quintessentially American than that scenario? Jack London himself couldn’t have written this any better.

And the plight of this lone Mexican gray wolf that strayed from his federally designated habitat — nicknamed Anubis by school kids and called m2520 by officials — captured the imagination of animal activists and a segment of the public this spring and summer until the wolf was captured recently and sent back to the pack in the White Mountains.

You could see this as a defeat for Emily Renn and her Flagstaff-based nonprofit, the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, which is striving to promote the introduction of the endangered species to northern Arizona, beyond its federally mandated habitat area.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe the notoriety garnered by Anubis/m2520’s three-month odyssey in the Coconino National Forest raised awareness of the plight of the Mexican gray wolves, whose numbers ebbed to seven in the late 1970s but now total 186, collared and placed in packs such as Anubis’ Dark Canyon pack in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

Renn, the nonprofit’s executive director, along with board president Jeanne Trupiano, lament that wolves such as this are not allowed to wander -- as they say wolves are wont to do -- to expand the habitat, form new packs and boost its population and dwindling gene pool.

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Agency excuses don’t fly for Mexican gray wolf’s removal from northern Arizona habitats

The Wildlife News (Original) Posted August 27, 2021 by Greta Anderson and Emily Renn

 In the Arizona Republic article, “Anubis, a Mexican gray wolf found outside his territory, is relocated amid outcry from scientists, advocates,” (August 18, 2021), Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Jim deVos provided his agency’s justification for removing Anubis, a young wolf who wandered around Flagstaff for nearly four months without any issues. But for each of the agency’s excuses to justify removing this wolf from suitable Mexican gray wolf habitat, there were other ways to address the ‘problem,’ had the agency actually wanted to restore wolves to their rightful place on the broader landscape.

Mr. deVos used the fact that four wolves in 20 years have been roadkill in and around the Flagstaff area as one of the reasons for removing Anubis. It’s true that Mexican gray wolves can be hit by cars; twelve percent of lobo mortalities between 1998 and 2018 were caused by vehicle strikes, mostly within the designated recovery area. Removing Anubis doesn’t protect him from cars, but the agency’s justification reveals something else: wolves are regularly moving north of Interstate 40, the politically established boundary line intended to prevent wolves from re-establishing populations in certain parts of their original range. Rather than translocating the wildlife, the agency could be looking at creating safe wildlife passages for all of Arizona’s animals across highways like I-40. Deal with the problem – roads – rather than trying to block the natural processes of wildlife dispersal and migration.

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Lone Mexican wolf leaves mark in summer out west

Sedona Red Rock News (Original) Posted August 26, 2021 by Scott Shumaker

A young Mexican gray wolf’s summer adventure outside Flagstaff came to a close last week, and wildlife officials hope he’s a bachelor in paradise in his new home in the core Mexican wolf recovery area in eastern Arizona.

Anubis, as the wolf was named by seventh-grade students, left his birth pack in New Mexico in May and traveled 400 miles to the Coconino Plateau above Sedona — part of natural “dispersing” behavior to find a mate.

The Sedona Red Rock News reported about Anubis in June, when rare national forest closures gave the young wolf the full run of Coconino and Kaibab National Forests. This past winter, Anubis was captured and fitted with a radio collar allowing both wildlife officials and the public to track his whereabouts.

During his stay in Northern Arizona, Anubis survived extreme heat and drought, forest fires and a month with record rainfall. He also eluded at least one capture attempt early in the summer, when extreme heat hampered an opera­tion involving a helicopter.

But on Aug. 15, a biolo­gist successfully darted the 1-and-a-half-year-old wolf before officials transported and released him in Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona, “alive and well,” according to Jim deVos, Mexican wolf program coordinator for Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Roaming Near Flagstaff Captured And Relocated

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted August 23, 2021 by Ryan Heinsius

Arizona wildlife officials have captured and relocated an endangered Mexican gray wolf near Flagstaff. It spent months in the area but biologists and others had become concerned about its proximity to homes and busy highways. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reported.

The 1-year-old wild-born wolf made the journey of hundreds of miles from western New Mexico late last winter and roamed the Bellemont, Williams and Flagstaff area. After an unsuccessful attempt to relocate him in June, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist darted the wolf on the Coconino National Forest near the San Francisco Peaks west of Flagstaff on Fri, Aug. 13. He was taken back to the species’ management area in eastern Arizona where officials hope he’ll find a mate and have pups.

Jim deVos, the agency’s Mexican wolf coordinator, says he had been seen numerous times in the forest and near housing developments and officials became worried about his safety.

"The risk of either unknowing or unlawful, purposeful shooting of the wolf. Being hit by cars along both I-40 and 180. It had crossed 180 several times," says deVos.

Wolf advocates, however, wanted the wolf, dubbed Anubis by school children, to remain in the area as they continue to call for the expansion of the species’ range in the Southwest.

"I only want the best for every wild, endangered Mexican gray wolf, but that includes the agencies recognizing that wolves belong in northern Arizona and changing the policies so they are allowed to stay here. I have no doubt that it won't be long before another wolf disperses to our area!" says Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project Executive Director Emily Renn.

She says there were no reported problems with Anubis and wolves play an important ecological role.

Mexican gray wolf roaming near Flagstaff captured, relocated

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted August 20, 2021 by the Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf that was roaming near Flagstaff has been captured and relocated to an area near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The wolf had ventured into housing developments, raising concern from state wildlife officials that it might be intentionally or accidentally shot, or struck by a vehicle, said Jim deVos, the Mexican wolf coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“We believe that the wolf was in jeopardy,” he told the Arizona Republic. “Now he’ll be back in an area with females, finding a female partner, forming a pack and contributing to the recovery. That’s what our goal was.”

The wolf was captured earlier this month in the Coconino National Forest and has rejoined other wolves that are part of a recovery program centered in a forested area spanning parts of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. North America's rarest subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf was listed as endangered in 1976 after being pushed to the brink of extinction.

The population has grown since the first wolves were released in 1998 as part of the reintroduction program. The latest annual census found about 186 Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona, a 14% increase over the previous census.

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