Local & Regional News

Draft Mexican Wolf Release Proposal Focuses on Cross-Fostering in 2019

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted November 27, 2018 by Ryan Heinsius

Federal wildlife officials have released a draft proposal outlining next year’s plans for Mexican gray wolf releases in the Southwest. It focuses on placing captive-born pups in wild dens to increase genetic diversity. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to cross-foster up to a dozen Mexican wolf pups in 2019, hoping their DNA will help sustain the species. Wild Mexican wolves on average are as related to each other as full siblings, and chronic inbreeding results in smaller litters and fewer pups that survive.

The agency doesn’t plan to release any captive-born adult wolves. According to officials, the animals require greater management and can exhibit nuisance behavior toward people and livestock.

Environmental groups, however, are critical of the plan, and are calling for the releases of captive-born adult wolves in order to increase genetic diversity more quickly. They also say cross-fostering is less effective and still an experimental technique.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has already approved the proposal, and New Mexico officials will consider it Friday. At last count nearly a year ago there were 114 Mexican wolves in the wild.

Man pleads guilty in wolf shooting

White Mountain Independent (Original) Posted November 20, 2018 by Terence Corrigan

A Peoria man who was accused of killing a female Mexican gray wolf in December, 2017, pleaded guilty last Friday to violating the Endangered Species Act.

Jason William Kunkel was sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation, was banned from “any hunting activities” and ordered to stay out of all Arizona National Forests (except to travel through on a federal, state or local highway). Kunkel was also required to forfeit the rifle and scope used to kill the wolf. Kunkel was also ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The rifle, a Remington Model 770, sells for around $400.

On the original charges, Kunkel faced a possible sentence of up to a $50,000 fine and imprisonment of up to a year.

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Arizona man gets probation for Mexican gray wolf killing

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted November 16, 2018 by the Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF (AP) — An Arizona man has pleaded guilty to shooting and killing an endangered Mexican gray wolf.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that Jason William Kunkel, of Peoria, Arizona, was sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to the slaying of a Mexican wolf in December 2017.

Federal authorities say Kunkel shot and killed a wild-born, female Mexican wolf in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Under the terms of his probation, Kunkel is banned from hunting and banned from the National Forests of Arizona.

He also had to forfeit his Remington Model 770, bolt action rifle with a scope to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The most recent survey showed there were at least 114 endangered Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Wolves matter

White Mountain Independent (Original) Posted October 30, 2018 Letter to the Editor by Gaylene Soper

We who support the Mexican gray wolf have spent years educating the public and doing everything we were asked of by various government officials to just try and sustain the little ground we have covered in four decades. Four decades!

And the wolf is losing ground. These various officials sit back and dismiss us like swatting at a fly on a hot summer day. We are job security for them, nothing more.

Enough is enough. We need to start pressuring, really pressuring, U.S. Fish and Wildlife to enforce punishment on those who kill the Mexican gray wolf that is so vital to our environment and our forests. Punishment would certainly be enforced if someone shot a cow and said “oh I thought it was a coyote.”

Gaylene Soper

Genocide extends to wild animals

White Mountain Independent (Original) Posted October 25, 2018 Letter to the Editor by Sarah Asleep Hartley

This less than 300 year-old culture seems to have a shameful amnesia towards its actual history of genocide. The wild west, thanks to the Spanish and English colonization not only killed millions of Native Americans (90 million to be exact) and took their lands and homes, but in the process murdered and killed millions and millions of wild animals like the wild bison and Mexican wolf, Mogollon bears, Merriam elk and the list goes on and on. And such atrocities with what remains of Americans indigenous animals seemingly continue on with two million killed by the US Federal government last year alone.

And yet privately owned livestock like cattle and sheep are on the increase. Why? When the public sector demands more wild animals and less and less cattle on our public lands? One hundred and thirteen Mexican wolves left, that is a sad and shameful statistic. That leaves no room for excuses from small group of businessmen "ranchers," whose personal needs seemingly reflect a horrible disconnect and selfishness towards the rest of our country's population, of not only humans but wild animals like the Mexican Wolf.

Sarah Asleep Hartley

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