GREENLEE COUNTY — The Mexican gray wolf is in the news once again as the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Council begins to accept applications for payments from livestock producers in 2016.
Launching two years ago, the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Plan reimburses qualified applications for conflicts arising from livestock and their proximity to the wolf populations.
In a news release from the U.S. Game and Fish Department, Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said, “The Mexican Wolf/Livestock Council’s payments for wolf presence program recognizes the indirect costs to livestock producers from Mexican wolves, including stress-related weight loss in livestock and other management costs.”
As the program remains relatively new, the service is still working to obtain the necessary funding.
“While we recognize that the program is not fully funded yet, we and the council are continuing to seek funding to fully implement this valuable program,” Tuggle said.
Payments are dependent on a number of factors, including regional proximity of land to wolf territory and number of wolf pups that have survived the year. The numbers may be skewed this year as the wolf population saw a decline in 2015, from 114 in 2014 to 97. This year's capture and count survey was also plagued by two sudden deaths that are still under investigation.
“We cannot be certain if this abrupt decline is an anomaly, as our trends since 2010 had been more encouraging prior to this year, including a 30-percent growth in 2014,” Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator Sherry Barrett said in a previous statement.
The Livestock Council is happy to see participation the program has received from livestock producers.
“The driving force behind this program was to develop something that would recognize the increase in expenditures the ranchers experience with the recovery of the Mexican wolves. Our continuing goal is to search out additional avenues that will increase our capacity to provide assistance to those who need it the most,” said Council Chairman Sisto Hernandez.
The Mexican wolf reintroduction program has faced opposition since its implementation in 1998. The council believes its “coexistence plan” and its financial incentives will bridge the gap between opponents and supporters to create a tolerance for the animal and its population recovery.
Additional information as well as the application for compensation is available at http://www.coexistencecouncil.org/. The deadline for application is June 1, 2016.