"All of these losses are tragic because the wolves were displaying all the right behaviors in the wild," said Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. "Each of them were successfully hunting elk and avoiding livestock."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to conviction of the person or persons responsible for this and other Mexican gray wolf deaths. The killing of these wolves is a criminal violation of both federal and state laws; it carries a federal penalty of $100,000 and one year in prison, in addition to state criminal penalties. Reward money for information leading to the conviction of persons killing wolves is authorized under the Endangered Species Act.
"Although we must await confirmation on the cause of death from our National Forensics Lab, were viewing this apparent shooting as an attempt to sabotage wolf recovery," said Nancy Kaufman, Regional Director of the Services Southwest Region. "Mexican wolves are not a threat to livestock or humans."
"We"re going to hit this investigation hard," Kaufman added. "Our law enforcement team in the field includes agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. To prevent any further losses, we will need the publics support and help."
The Service is offering a separate reward for information about the shooting death of the wolf found dead on August 7. Wolf #174, born at the Binder Park Zoo in Michigan in 1994, gave birth to the first Mexican wolf born in the wild in a half-century. She survived an encounter with an elk in late spring, which left her limping for several weeks, and still cared for her pup. Her death undoubtedly contributed to the pup=s presumed death; it was last seen on August 22.
As of today, the Service is also offering a reward for information about wolf #493 found dead on October 18, 1998. She was also the victim of an apparent shooting, although the results of her necropsy have not yet been received. The wolf, a two-year-old from the Hawk=s Nest Pack, was the last female left in the wild from this year=s release of wolves into eastern Arizona.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is also seeking information on two wolves currently listed as missing but presumed dead: the pup born this year to wolf #174, not seen since August 22, and the adult female wolf from the Hawk=s Nest pack (wolf #127, born at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque), which hasn=t been seen since September 19.
A great deal of time and effort has been spent evaluating and preparing these wolves for the wild, Babbitt added, and the same effort will be made for wolves selected to replace them. "Its time for us to leave the wolves alone and start living in harmony with them."
FATES OF RELEASED MEXICAN WOLVES
November 10, 1998
Eleven Mexican gray wolves were released on March 29, 1998, in three family groups.
Below is an accounting of events that transpired since that date.
Deaths / Presumed Deaths / Recaptures
#156 Adult male shot by camper April 28
#128 Mate of #156 - returned to captivity May 1
#511 1-yr-old female - dispersed out of recovery area - returned to captivity May 18
#494 2-yr-old female - dispersed to Alpine, AZ, area - returned to captivity May 28
#174 Adult female - found dead August 7
#577 Wild-born pup of #174 - last seen on August 22 - presumed dead
#127 Adult female - lost collar - last seen on September 19 or 23 - presumed dead
#493 2-yr-old female - found dead October 18
#532 Yearling male found dead November 7
Turkey Creek: #156 / #128
Campbell Blue: #511 / #174 / #577
Hawks Nest: #494 / #127 / #493 / #532
Cause of Death:
#577 Unknown (body not recovered)
#127 Unknown (body not recovered)
#493 Apparent gunshot (necropsy results pending)
#532 Apparent gunshot (necropsy results pending)
Wolves Remaining in the Wild:
Hawks Nest Pack:
#131 Adult male
#531 1.5-yr-old male
Campbell Blue Pack:
#166 Adult male
Turkey Creek Pack: