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Wolf Faces Shoot/Trap Order

By Tania Soussan
Journal Staff Writer
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an order to trap or shoot an endangered Mexican gray wolf that has been blamed for killing three cows this year.
    The male, known as M859, is in the Gila Wilderness and efforts are under way to permanently remove him from the wild. The order was issued Nov. 15.
    He was released in the Gila Wilderness in June with two female wolves but they separated after the release. He had been recaptured from the wild in June 2005 after a confirmed depredation outside the recovery area.
    Within weeks after his release this summer, the wolf was in trouble again. He was held responsible for killing a calf outside the recovery area boundary in New Mexico in July and for killing a cow in Catron County in August.
    On Nov. 13, the wolf reintroduction team spotted a cow carcass during an aerial telemetry flight in New Mexico, and it was later confirmed to be a wolf kill.
    "No wolves were sighted at the carcass but 859 was located in the general area," said Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Vicki Fox.
    In each of the three cases, M859 was blamed because he was in the area of the kill.
    "While permanent removal orders may be perceived as a step back in reintroduction efforts, removing problem wolves is an integral part of wolf management and actually helps create an environment supporting future wolf releases," Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said in a statement.
    The reintroduced wolves are considered "nonessential, experimental" animals so they can be killed for depredations even though they are endangered. The program rules call for wolves involved in three confirmed livestock depredations within one year to be permanently removed from the wild, either by capture or killing.
    Earlier this year, the alpha male and female of the Nantac Pack, the alpha male of the Hon Dah Pack and a male from the Saddle Pack were shot. Three other wolves were shot in previous years.