The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has successfully fostered two wolf pups born in captivity in Missouri into a wild wolf den in New Mexico.
The “cross-fostering” of wolf pups in Catron County last Saturday means Fish and Wildlife has made good on its promise to carry on with wolf releases despite the state’s opposition.
Last year, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department denied the federal government permits to release the endangered wolves in the state, but Fish and Wildlife vowed it would pursue its recovery program under federal mandate.
Game and Fish issued the following statement to the Journal: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blatantly disregarded state’s rights when they released Mexican wolves into New Mexico without obtaining the necessary state permits. Failure to adhere to state law goes above and beyond the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf and negatively impacts all wildlife management actions in New Mexico. It is imperative that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish remain the primary authority in all matters involving wildlife management in New Mexico for the benefit and best interest of our citizens.”
“Two 9-day old Mexican wolf pups were moved from the more genetically diverse captive population and placed into a den with a similarly aged litter in the wild,” Fish and Wildlife said. “The intent is for these newly released pups to be raised in the wild by experienced wolves and ultimately contribute to the gene diversity of the wild population by becoming successful, breeding adults.”
Game and Fish spokesman Lance Cherry could not immediately comment.
The St. Louis-based Endangered Wolf Center flew the just-born wolf pups — a male named Lindbergh and a female named Vida — to New Mexico to be placed with a new litter here. The cross-fostered pups represent “a vital new component to the recovery effort,” the center said in a statement.
When cross-fostering is successful, the mother will adopt the pups as her own. Fish and Wildlife has said that the technique is one way to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.
There were 97 wolves in the wild at last count in early 2016, down from 110 wolves the prior year, according to Fish and Wildlife.
This is a developing story.