One Mexican Wolf Killed; Two Pairs Transferred for Release into the Wild
CATRON COUNTY, N.M. - Just as the Mexican Wolf Recovery program was finishing its 15th year, a Mexican gray wolf was shot and killed by a federal Wildlife Services agent. At almost the same time, the release of two pairs of Mexican wolves was announced. The shooting, which took place on Jan. 19, was confirmed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) late in April.
Michael Robinson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said while he is pleased about the announcement of the release of two pairs of Mexican wolves, he has reservations about how the program is being run overall.
"We believe there are real questions as to whether Fish and Wildlife Service was attempting to engage in a cover-up," Robinson said. "And it raises a real question as to whether the USDA Wildlife Services agency should be part of this program to recover the Mexican wolf."
Robinson said releases such as those currently scheduled for New Mexico and Arizona are necessary, but not nearly sufficient to protect the genetic integrity of the wolf population. Only a single wolf has been released from the captive breeding pool since 2008.
The original U.S. wildlife management agency began trapping and killing wolves in 1915, Robinson added. Laws protecting them were not enacted until the 1960s. He accused FWS agents of persecuting Mexican wolves on behalf of the livestock industry, even after reintroducing the species in 1998.
"We believe it is appropriate to prosecute the killer for this crime [the shooting]," Robinson said. "He should not be still on the field team."
In an undated news release, FWS said it did not mention the shooting in its monthly report because the female wolf was unmarked and was not immediately confirmed as a Mexican wolf. The agency has submitted the case to the U.S. Attorney's office for review.
News about the release of pairs of Mexican wolves is available at http://1.usa.gov/4e9fIq.