Local & Regional News

Feds update evidence standards for Mexican gray wolf attacks

KUNM (original) By Bryce Dix, Posted August 31, 2023

The Mexican gray wolf is now receiving more management protections in Arizona and New Mexico.

The rules that govern what evidence can be used for counting wolf attacks are getting an update and advocates are hopeful they’ll show the true overall impact they have on the livestock industry.

Before the change, deciding if a cow or sheep died from a wolf attack depended on who you asked.

Now, clear-cut guidelines have been put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS Wildlife Services that are more in-line with standards found in other parts of the country –– like Montana and Oregon.

The biggest of these changes has to do with evidence of subcutaneous hemorrhaging or heavy bleeding under the skin that’s often found in animals killed or attacked by a Mexican gray wolf. This is a telltale sign that an animal was alive before it was preyed upon.

That, and wolf bite marks on a carcass leave specific measurements unique to their upper and lower canine teeth.

These investigations are primarily done so ranchers can be compensated for losses.

Advocacy groups including the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife are applauding the efforts, saying the standards will help protect wolves from unwarranted blame and lower the number of attacks attributed to them.

Classified as “endangered” since 1976, the Mexican gray wolf saw its population skyrocket to historic highs earlier this year thanks to aggressive recovery efforts.


New Information Shows Fewer than Four Collared Mexican Gray Wolves in the Wild in Mexico

Western Watersheds Project (original) Posted August 22, 2023


Media contacts: 

Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520)623-1878; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chris Smith, WildEarth Guardians, (505) 395-6177; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Conservationists sound the alarm about the U.S. reliance on the population

TUCSON, Ariz. – Fourteen conservation groups and individuals sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) today warning about the severely low numbers of Mexican gray wolves in Mexico, which the agency relies on as a secondary population to buttress against extinction in the United States. Records obtained through a public records request showed just four remaining radio-collared wolves are alive, joined by an unknown, but likely very low, number of uncollared individuals. 

“We support Mexican gray wolf recovery in Mexico and hope the U.S. will do all it can to bring back the lobo across the border,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “However, it’s painfully clear that the Service’s reliance on a second, stable population of wolves outside of the U.S. southwest is misplaced. The agency needs to immediately begin building additional populations in the U.S. to ensure against the second wild extinction of this species.”  

Mexico has been releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild since 2011, and the Service has been relying in part on this second population to justify its determination that the U.S. lobos are “nonessential” under the Endangered Species Act. But a recent analysis by Western Watersheds Project demonstrates that only about 20 percent of the released collared wolves survive for longer than one year, with the median lifespan in the wild being approximately 2.5 months. 

“This should raise alarms at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Chris Smith, southwest wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “First, they cannot rely on another sovereign nation to recover imperiled species. And second, they need to do more at home to protect and restore this iconic keystone species, which continues to be illegally killed and otherwise persecuted.”

“The Fish and Wildlife Service should start listening to scientists and release Mexican wolves in the Grand Canyon region and southern Rockies instead of doing the bidding of state game departments dominated by the livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Biologists in Mexico are heroically trying to keep lobos alive on private lands where there are few deer and no elk. That shouldn’t give U.S. authorities a pass to shirk Mexican gray wolf recovery in the Southwest.”

“The recent data highlighting severely low populations of wild wolves in Mexico raises serious concerns over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s continued reliance upon a second recovering population in Mexico—where they have no authority to oversee recovery efforts,” said Renee Seacor, carnivore conservation advocate at Project Coyote and The Rewilding Institute. “Instead, the Service should focus their recovery efforts on addressing persistent threats to the population, including continued illegal killings.”

Arizona's wayward wandering wolf is finally freed from lobo lockup

The Arizona Republic (Original) Posted June 15, 2023 Op-Ed by EJ Montini

Opinion: Humans could learn some things from a fervent nomad who refuses to respect boundaries.

The boundaries are clearly defined.

Asha the Mexican gray wolf simply ignored them.

It’s right there in black and white.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by way of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, says that gray wolves are free to wander in a geographic area that encompasses Arizona and New Mexico from Interstate 40 south to the international border with Mexico.

It’s a pretty big playground, don’t you think?

But, nooo.

Wolf was not where she's 'supposed' to be

Asha the wolf, who began her free life in Arizona, got picked up in January by Fish and Wildlife officers well east and almost 150 miles north of Interstate 40, near Taos, New Mexico, a magical place that for generations has drawn artists, visionaries and iconoclasts.

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You go, girl: Asha the wolf defies arbitrary boundary

The Santa Fe New Mexican (Original) Posted June 15, 2023 Op-Ed by Milan Simonich

Quick. Other than fur, what do California sea otters and Mexican gray wolves have in common?

Answer: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tried to impede the travels of both, either with a line in the ocean or a boundary in the desert.

Hunted relentlessly for their fur, California sea otters reached the brink of extinction. Government protections were instituted, but that prompted commercial fishermen to lobby for a ban on the otters in a coastal section of Southern California.

The restriction went into effect, not that the marine mammals noticed. Otters swam into forbidden waters to fill their stomachs with shellfish, prey coveted by businesspeople.

The “No Otter Zone” could not be enforced, at least not efficiently. Still, the restriction remained in effect until judicial rulings eliminated it in 2018.

Endangered Mexican gray wolves are another story. They remain under geographic restrictions in New Mexico and Arizona, the two states where they roam with limitations.

A management rule of the Fish and Wildlife Service permits the wolves to travel from the border with Mexico as far north as Interstate 40.

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Endangered Mexican gray wolf returned to the wild after straying from recovery area

The Arizona Republic (Original) Posted June 14, 2023 by Jake Frederico

A Mexican gray wolf that was captured after straying out of its designated recovery area earlier this year has been returned to the wilds of Arizona.

Asha, a 2-year-old female wolf, was successfully released on June 7. She was captured in northern New Mexico in January and temporarily held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta Mexican Wolf Management Facility outside Socorro, New Mexico.

The female wolf was born in the Rocky Prairie pack in Arizona in 2021. She was captured and fitted with a radio collar in the fall of 2022. Later that year, she dispersed from her natal pack and, in January, crossed out of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, north of Interstate 40.

The wolf had wandered nearly 500 miles, heading north into the southern Rocky Mountains. It was the first time since the reintroduction program was established that an endangered Mexican gray wolf trekked into that area.

Officials from Fish and Wildlife said the decision to move the wolf back to the experimental population area was consistent with policies outlined in the service's recovery permit. The lack of other wolves in the area meant she had no chance to breed and contribute to recovery efforts.

But conservation groups are challenging this boundary set by Fish and Wildlife and say that the arbitrary line is unfair and ignores the natural behavior of the wolves.

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