Local & Regional News

Two valley men accused of killing endangered Mexican gray wolf

White Mountain Independent (Original) Posted October 5, 2018 by Mike Leiby

Arizona - Two men who live in the valley are facing serious charges after allegedly killing an endangered Mexican gray wolf near Alpine last December.

Documents from the United States District Court of Arizona (Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Fine) show that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Robert Romero filed one count of violating the Endangered Species Act against Jason William Kunkel, of Peoria, and Donald Justin Davis, 40, of Phoenix, executed on Aug. 16 in Phoenix and filed against them Sept. 24.

Kunkel, Represented by Attorney Luke Mulligan, with Davis, represented by Daniel Kaiser made their initial appearance Sept. 5. and again on Sept. 20 when they had the complaints read against them.

They were in a Prescott Division courtroom in Coconino County again Oct. 2 when their attorneys requested and were granted a continuance.

According to federal law governing endangered species, “Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this chapter ... shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Any person who knowingly violates any provision of any other regulation issued under this chapter shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.”

In his complaint against the two men, Romero says Kunkel shot a female Mexican gray wolf on Dec. 5 of last year with a Remington 30-06 from a distance of about 150-200 yards in a meadow near Dipping Vat Spring in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

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Phoenix-Area Men Charged With Killing Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

Phoenix New Times (Original) Posted September 27, 2018 by Elizabeth Whitman

Two men from Peoria and Phoenix were charged on Monday with killing a Mexican gray wolf last year in a national forest in eastern Arizona.

Jayson William Kunkel of Peoria and Donald Justin Davis of Phoenix allegedly killed the wolf in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest last December, where they had gone to hunt elk. Robert Romero, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, filed the criminal complaint August 16 at the U.S. District Court in Flagstaff.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to take, including kill, a threatened or endangered species. The crime is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or a year in prison.

Efforts to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf, which was nearly exterminated in the 1900s, began in Arizona in 1998. In 2017, officials counted at least 63 Mexican gray wolves in the state — fewer than they had hoped to see as the population slowly recovers. Illegal killings pose a significant threat to the wolves.

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Gray wolf faces new challenge: National Academies of Sciences review

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Posted September 18, 2018 by Vandana Ravikumar of Cronkite News

A Mexican gray wolf in a photo taken in 2006. There were 113 wolves recorded in Arizona and New Mexico last year, the most since reintroduction of the endangered species began in 1998.

WASHINGTON – The long-running fight over the Mexican gray wolf moved from southeast Arizona to a paneled Washington conference room this week, where scientists will try to answer the question that could determine the animal’s fate.

Is a Mexican gray wolf just another wolf, or is it a distinct – and endangered – breed of its own?

That’s the question before a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine committee that is considering the taxonomy of the wolf – in other words, whether the Southwestern wolves are distinct enough from gray wolves in the rest of the country to be called a subspecies, based on their evolutionary history and genetic diversity, among other factors.

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Let Mexican grey wolf return in peace

Arizona Daily Sun (Original) Letter to the Editor Posted September 14, 2018 by James Babbitt

I understand that a Mexican grey wolf has recently been sighted near Flagstaff. I hope we have the wisdom and courage to let this beautiful species live and prosper among our overwhelming and suffocating human population explosion! We must leave room on our planet for a diversity of species, and we cannot bow to those who would hunt them to extinction. We are better than that!

JAMES E. BABBITT

Scientists Debate Mexican Gray Wolf’s Reintroduction Area

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Original) Posted on September 13, 2018 by Melissa Sevigny

Some ecologists and activists argue the endangered Mexican gray wolf should be reintroduced further north in Arizona to increase the population. But a new study coauthored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department says expanding the range would harm recovery efforts. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The study’s authors say the Mexican wolf’s historic range in the U.S. was limited to the southern corners of Arizona and New Mexico. If the wolf were to be introduced further north, it would likely interbreed with larger Rocky Mountain wolves.

Jim Heffelfinger of the Arizona Game and Fish says that would be "disastrous."

"They would come down and very much take over the Mexican wolf gene pool, and that’s the concern when we’re trying to recover the small lobo of the Southwest," he says.

Heffelfinger says the science is clear Mexican wolves never lived in northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico. But some scientists disagree. Sarah Hendricks of the University of Idaho says genetic data suggest the Mexican wolf naturally interbred with northern wolves in those areas.

In addition, she says, "Contemporary conservation practices really need to move beyond this strict idea of restoring populations within their predicted historical range, and we should focus on habitat that enhances the long term viability of the species."

Reintroduction began in 1998, after the Mexican wolf was nearly eradicated from the U.S. Now more than 100 wild wolves live in the Southwest.

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