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for people who care about the West



The Mexican wolf program is on the rocks. In mid-July, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists captured F511, the alpha female of the first wolf pack reintroduced in the Southwest. They planned to remove her radio collar and vaccinate her four pups (HCN, 7/25/05: Wolf Man John). But according to Colleen Buchanan, assistant coordinator of the recovery effort, the wolf overheated during her checkup and later died. The agency is also proposing a one-year moratorium on releases and changing its "translocation" policy. If the new rules are adopted, wolves suspected of killing three head of livestock will not be relocated in the wild, but will be killed or put in captivity.

High temperatures and low water levels have killed 100,000 fish in the Klamath River. Three summers ago, 68,000 salmon and steelhead died in low, warm water, where the Klamath meets the Pacific (HCN, 7/19/04: Scientific Principle: Klamath whistleblower throws in the towel). This time, the fish kill occurred just below Upper Klamath Lake, and included fathead minnows, Klamath tui chubs, yellow perch and thousands of endangered suckers. Such die-offs, due to oxygen-depleting algae blooms in stagnant water, are typical during irrigation season.

At the recommendation of Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., President Bush plans to nominate H. Dale Hall, Region 2 director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the new head of the agency (HCN, 6/27/05: Frozen in time: Endangered species science). Said Interior Secretary Gale Norton of Hall’s qualifications: "He has worked on everything from the Northwest Forest Plan to the California/Bay Delta water settlement, to the plan for restoring the Everglades. He has dealt with wetlands across the nation and water issues on the Middle Rio Grande and the Missouri Rivers." Environmentalists say Hall has favored politics over the science of his biologists, and oppose his nomination.