A sad event occurred during the week celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mexican wolf reintroduction; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly issued a kill order for wolf AM 1296, otherwise known as “Rusty,” the name the schoolkids gave him. He was killed in early April.
The reason given is repeated cattle depredation on “public and/or private land.” Also present on this land were cattle, not killed by wolves, left to rot. That almost seems like, let’s be real, baiting.
Today’s ranchers are not out monitoring their herds – many have day jobs – and are not required to clean up their messes on public lands where cattle graze for practically nothing while destroying our land. There’s no requirement for non-lethal conflict avoidance methods but they’re compensated for any proven wolf kill. By leaving dead cattle one might say you are habituating the wolves to free food.
The FWS continues to eschew current science catering to the ranching industry. The public has a right to know what happens on our public lands, especially in the case of endangered animals. Or perhaps they were using the best science to solve the problem for the rancher.
Current studies have shown that even the loss of one member can have detrimental effects on pack survival and reproduction. The take of a breeding leader often causes more conflicts. As a younger or splintered pack try to hunt, the likelihood of the pack reproducing drops to just 49%.
AM 1296, the alpha, dead, probably left behind a pregnant mate, thus calling this pack’s survival into question.
Experts say the best way forward in this time of changing climate is to protect all the wilderness and wild things we can. Protect our Lobo. We need them. Contact your legislators today.