Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Female Wolf Found Dead; Male Not Located
By Rene Romo
Journal Southern Bureau
LAS CRUCES — The female wolf in a New Mexico-based pack was found dead earlier this month, and the pack's male wolf could not be located with radio telemetry equipment last week.
The cause of death of the Morgart Pack female is unknown pending completion of a necropsy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
The male and female members of the Morgart Pack had been traveling together in the northeastern part of the Gila National Forest throughout September, but last week federal officials were unable to find the male.
"That just means it wasn't located," said Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley.
The death of the Morgart Pack female is the latest setback for the 12-year-old federal effort to reintroduce endangered Mexican gray wolves to a part of their traditional range in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.
When the reintroduction program was launched in 1998, federal officials projected the wild wolf population would grow to about 100 by 2006. But federal officials counted 59 wolves at the end of 2006, and that tally has since declined to 42 at the end of 2009, with at least three wolves having been killed under suspicious circumstances since June.
In July, an adult male wolf from the Hawks Nest Pack was found shot to death in eastern Arizona, less than a month after another male from that pack had been fatally shot. The Hawks Nest Pack's alpha female had whelped pups, and federal officials provided supplemental food to improve the chances the pups would survive after the loss of two adult male wolves.
Those Hawks Nest cases were referred to Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement arm for investigation.
In June, the alpha male of the San Mateo Pack was found slain under suspicious circumstances in southwest N.M.
In addition, the alpha male of the Paradise Pack on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona disappeared in mid-April.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and several conservation groups and individuals have pledged a total reward of up to $58,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone responsible for illegally shooting a Mexican wolf.