Illegal Activity Has Caused Multiple Wolf Deaths
Nine Mexican wolves have died in the wild since the beginning of 2008. Foul play was responsible for three of the deaths, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Necropsy results from the Service’s wildlife forensic laboratory are still pending for one wolf.
Female wolves known as AF1111, AF1112 and AF1113 were illegally shot. The fate of AM583 has yet to be determined. Mexican wolves are identified by numbers preceded with an ‘F’ to show adult female gender and an ‘M’ for adult male gender. The ‘A’ signifies the wolf was the lead, or alpha member, of the pack. Generally only the alpha members of a pack mate and bear young.
“I feel every wolf on the landscape deserves a chance to survive without being illegally killed,” said Benjamin N. Tuggle, PhD, Regional Director for the Service’s Southwest Region. “I am disturbed that there are suspicious circumstances around their deaths and I want to know what happened to each wolf. All of our available law enforcement resources will be used to conduct a comprehensive investigation.”
Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act. It can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000 and/or not more than one year in jail; and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.
The Service urges any individual who may have seen any suspicious activities relating to the Mexican wolf deaths to contact one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Ariz. at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Ariz. at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, at (505) 346-7828; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or, NMDGF Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263.
“I appeal to anyone with information that could help solve these cases to step forward and aid us in the resolution of these illegal shootings,” said Tuggle. The Service offers a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the individual(s) responsible for any wolf deaths.
The Service is also seeking law enforcement assistance from the other state and federal agencies involved in the wolf reintroduction program. “A strong cooperative law enforcement presence affirms that we won’t tolerate an illegal taking of any endangered species,” said Tuggle.
“These illegal actions are not going to stop the reintroduction program,” declared Tuggle. “We fully intend to establish a genetically sound population of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency charged with recovering endangered species. The reintroduction of the Mexican wolf is a cooperative, multi-agency effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves have been released into the wild since 1998
Two wolves, f1104 and m1109, were accidentally hit by vehicles in separate incidents earlier in the year. One female, AF758, likely died of natural causes. Its young pups, f1116 and m1117, did not survive, likely as a result of losing their mother as the primary food provider.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
For more information about fish and wildlife conservation in the Southwest, visit http://www.fws.gov/southwest/