John Larson – El Defensor Chieftain Staff Writer
Wildlife managers are investigating the deaths of two Mexican gray wolves found in May.
According to an Associated Press report, the interagency team that oversees recovery of the endangered species in New Mexico and Arizona documented the deaths of a female that was not with a pack and a male that was part of the Frieborn Pack. Officials did not release any other details about the circumstances.
In all, officials have reported a dozen wolf mortalities among the wild population over the first five months of the year.
Meanwhile, there were 15 confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock and one livestock injured by wolves in May. That’s according to the latest figures supplied by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, there were three nuisance incidents investigated in May.
From January 1 to May 31, there have been 60 depredation incidents in New Mexico and 21 depredation incidents in Arizona.
Throughout the month of May the USFS Wolf Liaison to the Interagency Field Team coordinated with the Reserve, Quemado, Alpine, Springerville and Clifton Ranger Districts to mitigate wolf-livestock conflicts. More than 55 livestock permittees were contacted by members of the IFT via phone, email or text to communicate general wolf locations or other wolf-related issues to try and reduce wolf-livestock conflicts.
The Mexican gray wolf was once common throughout portions of the Southwest and Mexico. By the 1970s, it had been hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction.
In 1998, state and federal wildlife managers began reintroducing the Mexican wolves — a subspecies of the gray wolf — with the experimental release of 11 captive-bred wolves. There are now at least 183 wolves roaming the two states, according to the latest survey.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which leads the interagency recovery team, is under a court order to rewrite the rule governing management of the wolves.