Mexican wolf recovery #fail

 

At the end of 2007, we published a story by investigative reporter John Dougherty called “Last Chance for the Lobo,” about the “bloody mess” that had become the Mexican wolf reintroduction in New Mexico and Arizona. There were so few wolves left when the recovery effort started that many born in captivity were inbred. Ranchers didn’t want the wolves on the land any more than they did decades ago, when they almost wiped the predators out. Wolves were illegally killed, or baited to prey on cattle so the feds would do the dirty work of predator control themselves. When Dougherty’s story ran in our pages, 84 reintroduced Mexican wolves had been killed -- and there were just 40 left in the wild.

A Mexican wolf pup, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Four years later, the population has increased a bit -- to 58 wolves -- but little else has changed. Four out of five wolves released in Mexico in the fall of 2011 met death-by-poison within months. Stateside, three of the four wolves known to have died last year were illegally shot. (Although, this was good news, in a way, because fewer wolves died, in total, than in the previous year.)

A glimmer of hope was publicized over the summer: Two new couples had “hooked up,” and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hoped they would breed and grow into viable new packs. And at the beginning of this year, a male, M1133, was released in Arizona, with the hope that he would mate with the top lady dog in the Bluestem Pack, whose alpha male was poached last summer. It was the first release in four years.

But this arranged marriage -- like so much of the recovery effort -- didn’t go as planned. Last week, M1133 was recaptured because he’d strayed outside his prospective mate’s territory and the two were unlikely to meet.

John Morgart, then Fish and Wildlife’s Mexican wolf recovery coordinator, told Dougherty in 2007: “Wolves can make it in the wild if it’s just a matter of biology. Wolves are easy.” That M1133 was snapped back up so quickly for doing what wolves do -- roam -- is another reminder that the relationship between people and wolves in the Southwest is still remarkably uneasy.

Cally Carswell is HCN's assistant editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • NEWS DIRECTOR
    Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • HAND CRAFTED LOG HOME IN TETON VALLEY
    on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.