Wildlife officials believe improved tracking may be cause for more reported deaths
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said a record number of Mexican gray wolves have died in the wild this year here in New Mexico.
The Wildlife Service’s website’s November report showed five endangered Mexican gray wolves were found dead last month.
That brings the 2018 total to 17, the most on record.
The ABQ Bio Park Zoo has several of the endangered animals.
KOAT spoke with zoo-goers Sunday about the investigation into the wolf deaths.
“It is sad to hear that these animals are, for whatever reason, dying out in the wild,” mother Jamie Padilla said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Law Enforcement officials said they are investigating all five of the November Mexican wolf deaths and will share more information when it is available.
However, they did release a statement saying in part what could be the reason.
It reads, in part: “We also have more Mexican wolves collared in 2018 than in prior years. Improved mortality detection is the likeliest explanation for the increased absolute number of moralities 2018. Therefore, we do not expect mortality rates to be outside of average levels.“
The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America and was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s.
In 1977, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated efforts to protect the species. Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range wolf recovery area in 1998.
“I really hope that they’re able to figure out what’s happening with the wolves out in the wild, because, any endangered species, it’s sad to see them disappear. They’re important to the ecosystem,” Padilla said.