Wolf News Roundup 7/08/19
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
July 8, 2019
Twelve Mexican wolf pups are now being cared for and raised by surrogate wild wolf parents after successful efforts to introduce them into existing wolf litters in Arizona and New Mexico.
The young wolves were placed in their foster dens by scientists from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan group and Interagency Field Team (IFT). The cross-fostering is part of an effort to restore the rare gray wolf subspecies to its former range and increase genetic diversity in the wild population.
Five Mexican wolf pups were placed into wild dens in Arizona and seven pups were placed into wild dens in New Mexico from April 18 to May 10, 2019, in accordance with the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. Cross-fostering is a proven way to introduce pups into the litter of an experienced wild female. Typically, survival rates using this technique are higher than other wolf release methods.
Six of the pups came from the Endangered Wolf Center in Missouri, three from the Mesker Park Zoo in Indiana, two from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, and one from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. In addition, three wild-born pups were removed from the Frieborn Pack in New Mexico and placed at the Endangered Wolf Center.
"We expanded our cross-fostering work this year both in the number of pups placed in the wild and the number of partners helping with the effort," said Amy Lueders, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. "The support of our partners, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Endangered Wolf Center, the Mesker Park Zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoo and the Wolf Conservation Center continues to play a critical role in the success of Mexican wolf recovery."
"This is one of the most important conservation efforts in the history of Mexican wolf recovery," said Jim deVos, Assistant Director for Wildlife Management at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "Given the very small initial population of wolves, infusing new genetics into the growing wolf population is a crucial step to recovery. The field team worked tirelessly to locate dens and transfer pups to make this important contribution to wildlife conservation a success."
The IFT will continue to monitor the packs through GPS and radio telemetry signals from collars placed on the wolves to avoid further disturbance. Later, through remote camera observations and efforts to trap the young of the year, the IFT plans to document the survival of the cross-fostered pups.
Partners in the effort to recover Mexican wolves include the Service, the government of Mexico, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service –Wildlife Services, participating counties and the members of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is urging Eastern Washington residents that are experiencing problems with predators to call their local sheriff first, before calling the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW.) SCCA notes that the local sheriff has a mandate to protect persons and property, unlike WDFW who is managing wildlife as its priority. WDFW will often fault the public or the landowner for not doing enough to prevent predator attacks instead of managing aggressive wildlife. The difference in perspective has led to some questionable actions by WDFW, according to the cattlemen.
"In the recent incident in Stevens County over Memorial Day weekend, a man was forced to shoot a wolf that threatened his daughter and himself while they were hiking. WDFW did not notify the local sheriff of this incident. When WDFW did share information with the sheriff’s office, the names of those involved were redacted. The agency also suggested the man didn’t need to defend himself and downplayed the seriousness of the situation. This is not acceptable," said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. "There have also been incidents where WDFW is confirming and then later denying that livestock injuries were caused by wolves. Other predator issues, like cougars, are also not being fully addressed."
Nielsen noted that the Stevens County and Ferry County Sheriff’s Offices now have a special deputy dedicated to working on predator issues, giving residents an extra resource that based in the community. Special Deputy and Wildlife Specialist Jeff Flood has been hired by Stevens and Ferry Counties to address predator issues. "In our experience, local law enforcement has always been behind the people in this county and is most interested in their safety and welfare. If we don’t involve our sheriff in all predator incidents, we are removing accountability for WDFW," said Nielsen.
In addition to providing accountability, the local sheriff can ensure that an accurate record of an incident is being created for local law enforcement, according to Stevens County/Ferry County Special Deputy Flood.
"If the public doesn’t call the sheriff’s dispatch first, then no local record of a predator incident is being created. Having an accurate record available for law enforcement is important for the sheriff’s department to protect public safety," Deputy Flood related.
Flood said residents with any predator concerns, including wolves, should call the Stevens County dispatch at 684-2555 or Ferry County dispatch at 775-3132. Residents of either county can also call 911 and ask for a sheriff’s deputy to respond. Flood can also be contacted directly at 680-6431 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.