By Trudy Balcom
APACHE COUNTY — Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said two Mexican gray wolves attacked and killed three calves shortly after a capture and re-collar effort late last week.
The first calf was believed to have been part of a herd of cattle on state lands leased for grazing near the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
The incident occurred one day after The Independent covered the capture and re-collar effort of two Mexican gray wolves — known as AM1249 and MP1558, respectively — from the Diamond Pack. One calf was killed Jan. 27, while two other calves in the same area were killed on successive days that followed, according to information provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
AZGFD officials said AM1249 — Alpha Male 1249 — “was not implicated in the Jan. 27 depredation, but was implicated in the other two confirmed depredations.”
On Jan. 31, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle approved the non-lethal removal of two wolves from the Diamond Pack in an effort to disrupt the pack’s behavior toward cattle. Members of the Diamond Pack have participated in one confirmed livestock depredation in the past and “may have been involved in a second depredation in the same area of Arizona in February 2016,” officials said.
On Jan. 31, AM1249 and MP1558 — Male Pup 1558 — were tranquilized using darts fired from a helicopter and removed from the pack. According to John Oakleaf, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the wolves will be evaluated for their potential to contribute to recovery efforts in the future.
Oakleaf said the Interagency Field Team will continue to monitor the Diamond Pack and “work to prevent additional depredations.”
Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said they are seeking outside funding sources to assist the livestock producer to “offset costs associated with … efforts to ship livestock to other pastures away from occupied wolf territory.”
Officials declined to name the livestock producer who suffered the losses.