Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Arizona wolf pups thrive in New Mexico pack

BACK STORY:

6 Mexican wolves released into Gila Wilderness
Thursday, July 24, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Six Mexican wolves were released Tuesday into the Gila Wilderness as part of its 15-year-effort to reintroduce the endangered predator to the Southwest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced. According to the agency, the wolves were driven from the wolf sanctuary in Sevilleta to the Gila Cliff Dwellings on Monday night, then packed into the wilderness for release.
The female wolf is one who was recaptured in May after becoming separated from her mate and having six pups with no wildlife experience, officials said.

Two of the pups were put with another pair of wolves that had a smaller litter and more rearing experience. At the sanctuary, the mother and her four remaining pups were reintroduced to a former mate, who officials say adopted the pups as his own.

January numbers show that there were 83 Mexican wolves — 46 in New Mexico and 37 in Arizona — in the wild.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said he was happy that wolves were being released into the wild but still had concerns that they were coming from only five breeding pairs.
"There's a lot of inbreeding going on and we are seeing smaller litters of pups," he said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced a proposal aimed at the release of captive-bred wolves into new areas of New Mexico and parts of Arizona. The move, which is subject to 60 days of public comment, would expand areas where Mexican wolves can be released and disperse, allowing them to roam from the Mexican border to Interstate 40.

"Over the last 16 years, we have learned much about managing a wild population of Mexican wolves," Southwest Regional Director Ben Tuggle said. "And it is clear that the current rule does not provide the clarity or the flexibility needed to effectively manage the experimental population in a working landscape."

Robinson said the center was encouraged that more wolves will be able to roam more widely under the proposals. However, he said the proposed changes also broaden guidelines allowing ranchers to kill Mexican wolves.

"Increasing the authority to kill wolves is disappointing and will further imperil them," he said.

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UPDATE:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) — Wildlife managers say two Mexican gray wolf pups from an Arizona pack are thriving with their new family in New Mexico.
Biologists in May transplanted a pair of 2-week old pups born in a large litter to another pack of wolves with a smaller litter and more rearing experience.
Wildlife managers have been troubled by the survival rates of wild-born pups. The goal with cross-fostering is to improve the genetic health of the endangered predators as they are reintroduced to the American Southwest.
The technique has worked with red wolves on the East Coast. This marks the first time it has been tried with Mexican gray wolves.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said this week that a trail camera photo shows that the pups are alive and doing well.

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