Ranch Hand Admits to Baiting, Killing Wolves
TUCSON, Ariz. - Today, High Country News reported in an article, Last Chance for the Lobo, that a ranch hand working on the Adobe-Slash Ranch in New Mexico abandoned a pregnant cow that was about to give birth in an area wolves were known to inhabit, in order to lure wolves into attacking livestock which would provide an excuse for removing the wolves. According to the article, the ranch hand knew where the wolves were by using radio-tracking data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which is meant to help ranchers avoid livestock losses. As the article reports, this baiting incident resulted in the lethal removal of the Durango pack's alpha female.
Below is a link to the full article, Defenders of Wildlife's reaction to this news and a brief background on the efforts to restore the Mexican wolf to the Southwest.
"If the accusations detailed in Last Chance for the Lobo are true, it is deeply disturbing that someone would use the very tools offered to help them avoid conflict with wolves as a means to derail the recovery of the Mexican wolf. Defenders of Wildlife has worked hard to help ranchers coexist with wolves through compensation, cooperation and trust. It appears that ranch hand Mike Miller abused that trust and deliberately sacrificed livestock under his care to force the removal of endangered wolves.
"If the Mexican wolf is to remain a vital part of the Western landscape, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must stop unethical individuals from abusing federal recovery programs and baiting the Mexican wolf into extinction. It's time for the service to step up and recommit to their mission to recover endangered and threatened species. A good first step would be to re-double their efforts to monitor and manage this program.
"Right now, one Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is killed or removed from the wild for every 1.1 confirmed livestock depredations in the Southwest. At this rate, the lobo could once again become extinct in the wild in a few short years."
The Mexican gray wolf once roamed throughout the Southwest, but by the early 1970s, the lobo had been almost completely exterminated. In 1976, the lobo was listed as an endangered species, and shortly thereafter the few remaining wolves were brought into a captive-breeding program involving FWS and more than 40 North American zoos. In 1998, the service reintroduced three family groups of wolves back into the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona.
FWS has released almost 100 Mexican wolves since 1998. Unfortunately, a limited recovery area, heavy-handed management by the service, illegal poaching, and opponents who take advantage of the flexibility of the program have left us with only about 60 wolves in the wild today, and far too few breeding pairs to sustain the population.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.
Source: Defenders of Wildlife