Friday, May 26, 2006

Alpha shot- eight wolves die in Arizona in removal effort

By Arthur H. Rotstein - ASSOCIATED PRESS

TUCSON, Ariz. – The alpha male of a wolf pack that had been killing cattle on the White Mountain Apache Reservation has been shot and eight other wolves in the pack that were captured have died, including six pups killed by a surrogate parent wolf. The alpha male of the 12-member Hon Dah pack was shot and killed Wednesday after efforts to capture it were unsuccessful. The wolf was shot by a member of the interagency wildlife team overseeing the Mexican gray wolf recovery program.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had ordered the capture or removal of the entire pack of wolves April 19, at the request of the tribe.

Six pups were captured Friday and transported to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro County, N.M., where they were placed with a surrogate pair of wolves that had a two-pup litter, in hopes the pair would care for the captured animals. Although the adult male had been used successfully as a surrogate before, “in this instance the male killed the six in an instinctive effort to protect his own two pups,” said Victoria Fox, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman in Albuquerque

The alpha female was captured late Sunday and taken to an Alpine, Ariz., field office for the recovery program. She was monitored overnight and appeared healthy and alert but was found dead early Monday before a veterinary examination, the agency said. One trapped male yearling also died. A second male yearling was trapped and taken to the Ladder Ranch wolf facility in New Mexico, while officials haven't located the third yearling, whose gender is unknown. The fate of a seventh pup is not known.

Fish and Wildlife said it would conduct an internal review of the circumstances surrounding the wolves' 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,” said Benjamin Tuggle, acting regional director for the agency's Southwest region.

According to Fish and Wildlife estimates, there are 32 to 46 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, not including newborn pups, in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

  • San Diego Union-Tribune
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