9 Feb 2009, 11:00am
by admin

Agency wolf count comes up short again

Press Release from Wolf Crossing [here]

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and cooperating agencies working on the Mexican wolf reintroduction have just released their yearly wolf count report. Wolf numbers in 2008 haven’t changed significantly in the past year.

“Agency personnel failed to find suspected newly formed packs that they had evidence of in earlier in the year,” said Laura Schneberger, President of the Gila Livestock Growers Association. “While it is possible that animals that were killed could have contributed to the year-end count, it is clear they did have significant conflict with human beings and were killed by those close encounters. Had the agency followed protocol developed in the rule, those animals might be alive now,” said Schneberger.

Solving wolf livestock conflict was not prioritized in 2008 and problem wolves were left on the ground. Some ranchers were provided range riders during high depredation seasons as part of an experimental livestock conflict prevention program, but clearly more genuine effort by agency personnel is necessary to develop long term solutions to wolf conflict. It may be too late for some ranchers who have had it with dealing with the agencies.

During 2008 the agency did not see a lessening of wolf removals as implied in their press release. They chose to comply with the wishes of environmental organizations who demanded the agency stop removing problem wolves.

“The agency chose to ignore the people dealing with the depredation and instead focused their efforts on releases. That hasn’t helped their relationships in our communities.” said Schneberger.

The agency says performance of the wolf packs was not up to par. Only 11 pups were reported to have survived out of 7 litters documented to exist in collared wolf packs from the spring inventory of known wolves. It is possible the rabies outbreak or documented inbreeding regression could be responsible for small litters and survival rates.

Rabies has been an ongoing problem in the area. The Luna pack, made up of one collared vaccinated animal and 6-8 uncolored wolves, simply disappeared in the wilderness in the summer of 2008. Personnel trapped for months to collar two previously unknown wolves to make up for the loss of the original Luna pack.

“Instead of admitting wolf reintroduction has natural pitfalls, the agency blithely attempts to blame the failures of their program on local people by implying the wolf population would be doing better if people weren’t shooting them,” said Schneberger. “I am not the only one that doesn’t appreciate those kinds of spin tactics, but it has become their habit. It is somewhat disingenuous of the agencies leadership to imply that some illegal actions are the cause for their continued failure when the agency themselves have no capture collar or vaccination program for pups born in the wild. This is a sad situation because most ranchers simply don’t bother to call on the agency for intervention anymore because this year they refused to appropriately mitigate livestock depredation despite the assurances of Dr. Benjamin Tuggle [Director, USFWS Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program].”

An example of mismanagement can be seen in the 2008 shooting of the Laredo pack alpha male. Agency volunteers were working with an area resident in a populated community to stop the wolf pack from killing sheep and goats. The volunteers chased the wolves to a neighboring property where they began attacking calves on deeded land. The land owner, who had not been informed of their presence, mistook the wolf for a large feral dog and shot the animal.

There were several serious incidents involving wolf-like animals that the agency simply does not discuss with the media or the public. For example, three alpaca’s alpacas were slaughtered on deeded land by uncollared wolves, something the FWS investigated but due to lack of collared wolves in the area did not recognize as a wolf attack. “These animals are not born with telemetry collars,” said Schneberger, “so it is really hard to get personnel to recognize any wolves they don’t want to claim. The counts are really just an exercise in futility.”

9 Feb 2009, 11:20am
by Jess

Questions (and Answers):

Have the number of habituated wolves declined from 2001 to 2009?

NO! One quarter (at least) of the Mexican wolves are human-habituated. How can this be acceptable?

Have habituated wolves caused documented psychological trauma to children?


Have any protective measures to date been enacted to mitigate this problem?


USFWS have known their wolves are extremely human-habituated for many, many years and still they put our children in danger by ignoring the problem.



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