Hands Off Wandering Wolves!

Days of freedom near Flagstaff, Arizona have sadly come to an end for Anubis (m2520).

A solitary subadult male Mexican gray wolf named Anubis (m2520) lived peacefully in the national forests north of Williams and Flagstaff from early May 2021 until mid-August 2021. However, the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) has recently succeeded in their expensive and ill-advised crusade to capture and move him back where they want him, not where he was choosing to be. This isn’t just sad for Anubis – this was a huge missed opportunity to improve the science of wolf recovery and to study what a resilient animal like the wolf can do when allowed to roam freely in suitable habitat. Read more about the removal here.

The wolf, named “Anubis” by seventh graders in an annual pup-naming contest, was born in spring 2020 to the Dark Canyon Pack of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. It is natural for young wolves to disperse long distances and seek out new territories. Anubis had traveled at least 250 miles from his birthplace but may have traveled as much as 300-400 miles as he roamed the mountains and canyons around Williams and Flagstaff, AZ, an area north of I-40 that contains abundant elk and good hiding cover.

Once there, Anubis followed his natural instincts to stay out of sight and out of trouble, roaming in excellent wolf habitat until his freedom was cut short by one of the very agencies that should be a champion for conserving his rare subspecies.

We know from the stories of dispersing wolves in places like northern CA and CO that it can take several years of those wolves being left alone and wandering around before they successfully find themselves a mate and start a new pack. AZGFD is intent on preventing both natural recolonization and releases of packs in areas of Arizona that were once home to Mexican gray wolves.

AZGFD seems motivated in its insistence that wolves stay south of I-40 by reasons that are wholly political rather than based in science. In fact, the best wolf scientists have recommended that recovering Mexican wolves must include expanding their range and their populations beyond the current recovery area. It’s a shame they couldn’t let Anubis live in peace, outside of their arbitrary boundaries.

If AZGFD is truly concerned about the welfare of these wandering wolves, they need to do a better job of informing the public that it is illegal to shoot a federally protected wolf and should enforce serious charges for criminals who violate state wildlife regulations and the Endangered Species Act. We are disappointed that the agency’s focus remains on limiting wolves, rather than educating the public to ensure wolves are safe in the wild places where they belong. It is time for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to step in to address this failure to support the recovery of an endangered species. 

Though it’s too late to help Anubis, it’s not too late to speak up for future wandering wolves!

Please send an email to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service saying:

  • You were excited to learn about Anubis (m2520) and want to celebrate his amazing journey. However, you are disappointed that Arizona Game & Fish Department was able to interfere with his ability to blaze new trails for his subspecies in an area that has been identified as important for wolf recovery.
  • The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service should revise the 10(j) Management Rule for Mexican gray wolves to conserve the subspecies and facilitate meaningful recovery in the wild in all suitable habitats.
  • Wolves need freedom from politically-motivated boundaries and full protection under the Endangered Species Act, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has an obligation to create a science-based management rule that prevents the extinction of this rare wolf.
  • The agencies should focus first on public outreach and education, using only humane hazing options and hands-off coexistence methods where necessary.
  • Wolves should not be captured simply for following their instincts to disperse.
  • You strongly oppose any capture efforts to move Mexican gray wolves that travel north of Interstate 40. Wolves should be allowed to continue on their journeys without risking potential harm during recapture and translocation, and the agencies should focus on keeping an endangered wolf safe wherever they roam.
  • The landscapes of the Grand Canyon region evolved with wolves, and the people living in this region want to see our apex carnivore restored. Polling conducted in 2013 has shown 81% of Arizona voters support wolf recovery in the Grand Canyon region.
  • We can predict that wildlife species will shift their ranges in response to climate change and Mexican wolves will likely move further northward into the Grand Canyon region if allowed to do so. The agencies must adequately address the potential changes in wolf habitat, prey species, water and vegetation distribution, and wolf movements due to the impacts of climate change in the revised Mexican wolf 10(j) Management Rule.

If you live in the area near Flagstaff or northern Arizona, you can include that personalized information, but it is not necessary to live here to submit a comment.

We encourage you to be respectful to all agency staff in your comments.

Send your email to:

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And include:

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We also ask that you stay tuned for more information about how you can submit a comment on the 10(j) Management Rule. You can make a difference for the future of Mexican gray wolves by participating in that comment period, and we will be sharing more resources for how and when you can comment later this year.

Please speak up now for Anubis and all the other wolves following their instincts to roam, and be ready to be part of a growing movement that will not rest until we have achieved a science-based 10(j) Management Rule that will ensure the survival and recovery of one of our rarest land mammals.