Gray wolves in Southwest aren’t faring well
Mexican gray wolves are running into all kinds of trouble in the American Southwest. The wolves were hunted to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s; reintroduction began in 1998, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service originally predicted that by now there would be a self-sustaining population of 100 wolves and 18 breeding pairs. Instead, the agency’s last official count came up with 59 wolves and six breeding pairs. The reintroduction program stipulates that a wolf must be removed (read: killed or put into captivity) if linked to three livestock deaths; 65 wolves have been removed since the program began, and 26 have been killed by poachers. This week, the USFWS said two adult females and their pups, the last remaining members of the Aspen pack, are to be “removed.” That follows on the heels of the disappearance earlier this month of the three-wolf Durango pack. Meanwhile, the USFWS has begun collecting public comments on changes it wants to make to the reintroduction program; proposed changes include allowing the wolves to range farther, but also giving private citizens more leeway to harass and kill “nuisance” wolves.