LAS CRUCES – Federal officials have confirmed that a Wildlife Services employee is the subject of an investigation into the killing of an endangered Mexican gray wolf in January in the southwest corner of the state.
Few details about the killing have been disclosed, with spokesmen for Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA, and Fish and Wildlife Services, which oversees the wolf recovery project, saying that the case is under investigation.
However, a brief statement from Wildlife Services indicates the employee asserted the killing was a case of mistaken identity.
The employee, described as a specialist, was investigating a possible wolf depredation of livestock in January when the incident occurred, wrote Carol Bannerman, a Maryland-based spokeswoman for Wildlife Services. “While on-site he lethally removed a canine, which was then identified as possibly a Mexican wolf.”
Bannerman wrote that the Wildlife Services employee “immediately reported the take” to the agency’s management and to the recovery project’s Interagency Field Team, a group of federal, state and tribal officials who work collaboratively on the wolf program.
Asked specifically about the rumored killing of a wolf by a Wildlife Services employee, Sherry Barrett, the Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for Fish and Wildlife, said she was unable to comment and referred questions to a spokesman.