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Mexican Wolf A Rural Viewpoint

Reality Bites

Updated 9-06



 Hon Dah Pack Bites the Dust  {my title not theirs}


Southwest Region    (Arizona ? New Mexico ? Oklahoma ?Texas)    http://southwest.fws.gov

for release May 24, 2006                     

Contacts:   Victoria Fox, 505-248-6455 or Elizabeth Slown, 505-248-6909

Eight Mexican Wolves Die Following Recapture After Cattle Depredations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that eight members of a pack of reintroduced Mexican wolves found to be responsible for a series of cattle depredations in Arizona died this week following efforts to recapture them. The Service will conduct an internal review of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the wolves. 

The Service made the determination to recapture all members of the Hon Dah pack on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation last month after the White Mountain Apache tribe requested their removal in the wake of seven confirmed and four probable livestock depredations on tribal lands in Arizona since June 7, 2005. An agreement signed by the Service and the Tribal council allows the tribe to request removal, by lethal take or other methods, of wolves found to be involved in livestock depredations on the reservation.

 All wolves in the Blue Range Recovery Area, including those on the White Mountain Apache Tribal Reservation, are part of a non-essential experimental population (NEP). This designation allows the Service greater flexibility to manage wolves under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Permanent removal, either by capture or lethal means, is an option permitted by the NEP designation and established by the Final Rule and Standard Operating Procedures governing the Mexican wolf management program following three confirmed livestock deaths.

“The loss of these wolves is a blow to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and everyone who is working to recover wolves in the Southwest. We are currently reviewing our capture practices, animal handling and pup placement procedures to determine whether these deaths could have been prevented, and to ensure that any necessary measures are taken to reduce the chance of this happening again,” said Benjamin Tuggle, acting Regional Director for the Service’s Southwest Region.

The Hon Dah pack numbered two adults, three yearlings and seven pups. In a series of unprecedented events, an adult female, a male yearling and six wolf pups died following capture. A male yearling was successfully captured and transported to the wolf facility at Ladder Ranch in New Mexico.

Six of the seven four-week old pups were captured on Friday, May 19, examined by a veterinarian and then transported to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Mexican Wolf Facility. The pups were placed with a surrogate pair of wolves with two pups in the hope that the pair would care for the captured pups. Although the male from this pair had been successfully used as a surrogate in the past, in this instance the male killed the six captured pups in an instinctive effort to protect his own two pups.

The pack’s alpha female was captured late Sunday, May 21 and sustained a minor injury to her foot. She was then transported to the Alpine Arizona Mexican Wolf Field Office where she was carefully monitored throughout the night.  She appeared to be alert and healthy; however, she was found dead early Monday morning prior to a veterinary examination and transport to Sevilleta.  Necropsies will be performed on the first captured yearling and on the alpha female to determine cause of death.

Following the removal operations, only two of the Hon Dah Pack wolves currently remain free – the alpha male and a yearling of unknown gender. The Mexican Wolf Field Team is working to remove those remaining wolves.

The Service estimates that there are currently 32 to 46 Mexican wolves, not including pups, in the wild in portions of Arizona and New Mexico.

- http://www.southwest.fws.gov -