Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Summary March 2018

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Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update

On March 24, 2018 Sherry Barrett retired from the position of Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the USFWS. The IFT thanks Sherry for her leadership and dedication to Mexican wolf recovery efforts during her 7 years as coordinator. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator position will be filled by temporary acting assignments until a new coordinator is hired.

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) include activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and New Mexico.  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  For information on the FAIR call (928) 338-4385.

Current Mexican Wolf Population Status in Brief

The IFT completed the annual year-end population survey which started November 1, 2017 and concluded with helicopter count and capture operations conducted from January 24, 2018 through February 3, 2018. The year-end minimum population count for 2017 was 114 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population experiences the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year. This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups. At the end of March, there were 75 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring.

Arizona Wolf Packs

Bear Wallow Pack (collared AM1338, AF1335, m1676, and fp1683)
Bluestem Pack (collared f1686)
Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, fp1668, and mp1671)
Frieborn Pack (collared F1443 and m1447)
Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, f1550, mp1666, mp1677, and mp1681)
Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)
Panther Creek Pack (collared AF1339, AM1382, and m1574)
Pine Spring Pack (collared F1562 and AM1394)
Prime Canyon Pack (collared F1488 and m1471)
Saffel Pack (collared AM1441, AF1567, mp1661, and mp1680)
Single collared m1477
Single collared F1489
Single collared m1571
Single collared m1673

Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR)

Baldy Pack (collared AM1347 and mp1672)
Tsay-O-Ah Pack (collared AM1343, AF1283, and fp1674)
Single collared wolf m1559
Single collared wolf f1560
Single collared f1679

New Mexico Wolf Packs

Copper Creek Pack (collared AM1386)
Dark Canyon Pack (collared AF1456 and AM1354)
Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278, m1555, m1556, and f1670)
Lava Pack (collared AF1405 and AM1285)
Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, AF1346, and m1561)
Luna Pack (collared AM1158, AF1487, and fp1684)
Mangas Pack (collared AM1296, AF1439, and fp1664)
Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, AM1398, f1565, mp1669, and mp1678)
San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399 and fp1578)
Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared AM1284, AF1553, mp1667, and fp1682)
Single collared AM1038
Single collared AM1155
Single collared M1453
Single collared f1473
Single collared m1486
Single collared m1569
Single collared f1685

Wolf Mortalities in New Mexico and Arizona

In March, M1386 was located dead in New Mexico. The incident is under investigation.
In March, m1569 was located dead in New Mexico. The incident is under investigation.
From January 1 to March 31, 2018 there have been a total of four documented wolf mortalities.

INCIDENTS

During the month of March, there were 11 confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock. There were five nuisance incidents investigated in March, three of which were confirmed as wolf by the IFT. From January 1 to March 31, 2018 there have been a total of 22 confirmed wolf depredation incidents in New Mexico and 4 confirmed wolf depredation incidents in Arizona.

On March 4, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Sierra County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 4, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Greenlee County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 6, WMAT investigated an injured calf on the FAIR. The investigation determined .the probable cause of injury to be wolf.

On March 8, Wildlife Services investigated two dead cows on the SCAR. The investigations determined both cows were confirmed wolf kills.

On March 8, the IFT investigated reports of three wolves feeding on a dead elk in the Chapache housing area in Alpine. The IFT responded and located two recently killed elk in an open field near several houses. The wolves had left by the time the IFT had arrived. The IFT learned that the wolves were scared away when a homeowner walked out of their house. The remains of the elk carcass were removed from the area to eliminate the attractant of wolves returning to the area. Other homeowners in the area were contacted by the IFT and advised of their legal rights under provisions in the Federal Final 2015 10(j) rule to protect domestic dogs and livestock from wolves. Private land owners or their designee can shoot wolves that are in the act of biting, killing, or wounding domestic animals (livestock or non-feral dogs) on non-federal land (private, tribal, or state land). Any form of harassment or shooting of Mexican wolves must be reported within 24 hours to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by telephone 505-346-2525; or fax 505-346-2542.

On March 9, WMAT investigated a dead heifer on the FAIR. The investigation determined the cow died of unknown causes.

On March 11, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 12, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Greenlee County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf was killed by coyotes.

On March 12, the IFT took a report of a dead elk in Nutrioso near Hulsey Creek. The IFT investigated the carcass and did not have any evidence to confirm that the elk had been killed by wolves. There were no GPS points from wolves in the area during the time when the elk would have died. The carcass was removed from the area.

On March 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 14, the IFT took a nuisance report of wolves coming into a camp north of Alpine. The reporting party indicated they had heard howling close to their camp and thought animals may have come into their camp at night while sleeping. The IFT confirmed from GPS points that the Elk Horn Pack was in the area that night, but did not have evidence to corroborate that wolves had come into the camp.

On March 15, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 17, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 17, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a probable wolf kill.

On March 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead bull in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow died from unknown causes.

On March 20, the IFT received a report that wolves had killed an elk in Dry Valley in Nutrioso. The IFT responded to the area and confirmed the Hoodoo Pack had killed an elk in the area approximately 100 yards from the nearest residence. While in the area, several people were contacted who reported seeing wolves on the elk carcass and traveling back into the forest that morning. The remnants of the elk carcass were removed to eliminate further attractant of wolves to the area. Because this was the second confirmed elk kill this month by the Hoodoo pack in proximity to houses, the IFT initiated multiple and sustained hazing efforts on members of the Hoodoo pack in effort to increase their aversion to areas with human presence. Several residents in the area were also issued less than lethal rounds to use to haze any wolves that return to the area of Dry Valley.

On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead bull in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 23, WMAT investigated a dead cow on the FAIR. The investigation determined the cow died of unknown causes.

On March 23, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow died of unknown causes.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated an injured domestic dog in Greenlee County, AZ. The investigation confirmed the dog’s injuries were caused by wolves several days prior. The IFT responded to the area on the following day and initiated monitoring efforts in the area that remain ongoing at the time of this writing. The IFT confirmed there were no wolves with functional radio collars and no known wolf packs in the area at the time of the incident.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated an injured calf in Greenlee County, AZ. The investigation confirmed the calf’s injuries were caused by wolves.

REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and 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.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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