By Danny Udero / Silver City Sun-News
SILVER CITY – The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project annual year-end population survey released this month documented 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.
Sixty-seven had radio collars that were functioning and were being actively monitored, according to the interagency field team’s monthly report that included the survey.
The survey from November through February is conducted in the winter because the population experiences “the least amount of natural fluctuation.” The population also increases because of the birth of new pups and then it declines as the summer comes and fades into the fall because of the mortality rate of those pups.
In New Mexico it was reported that one wolf was located dead, according to the survey. AM992 was from the Dark Canyon pack and the incident is under investigation.
The survey also included notes on specific packs, their roaming territories and pack members.
For example, the Iron Creek pack continued to use its territory in the northern portion of the Gila National Forest, while the Lava pack also was in its territory in the southeastern part of the Gila.
The Leopold pack and Luna pack were also doing well in their respective territories in the Gila, the survey said, adding Mp1554 was still missing and the field team has been unable to locate him. His fate is changed to unknown.
In the north portion of the Gila, three members of the Prieto pack were displaying dispersal behavior, including one that was documented traveling east as far as the Cibola National Forest.
There was only one predation incident in New Mexico reported. On Feb. 25, Wildlife Services confirmed that a dead cow in Catron County was a confirmed wolf kill.
Arizona had several incidents, with the majority coming from Nutrioso. A report of seven wolves on private property near an alpaca holding pen was confirmed by field team personnel. They tracked and pursued the Elk Horn pack wolves and hazed them away from the area.
There was a dead calf in Apache County, Ariz., but the investigation concluded that the calf was killed by coyotes.
A Nutrioso homeowner reported that his teenage daughter was chased by wolves while riding horseback in the forest. The incident stated that the girl and her dog were riding near Gobbler Peak when they came across wolves on a fresh elk kill. The dog interacted with the wolves from the Hoodoo pack. The girl stated that she yelled at the wolves before riding away.