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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Update

Past Update 2004

Latest Note from the Field

October 7, 2004

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update September 1 – 30, 2004

This is a summary of Mexican wolf reintroduction project activities in Arizona and New Mexico. Additional information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329, or toll free at 1-888-459-WOLF, or by visiting the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's web site at http://mexicanwolf.fws.gov. Past updates may also be viewed on this website or interested parties may sign up to receive the update electronically by visiting www.azgfd.com. This update is public property and can be used for any purpose. The reintroduction project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services (USDA-WS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), the San Carlos Apache Tribe (SCAT) on the San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and other supporting organizations including the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and Defenders of Wildlife (DOW).

Please report any wolf sightings, incidents of take or harassment of wolves, or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-WOLF, or the Arizona Game and Fish Department's 24-Hour Dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks the history of all known Mexican wolves. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 18 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate sub-adults (younger than 18 months) or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate alpha wolves.

Definitions: For the purpose of this update, a “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves, at least one being radio-collared, that maintains an established territory and are proven breeders. In the event that one of the two alpha wolves dies, the remaining wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack name. A “group” of wolves is defined as two or more wolves that travel together on a consistent basis but are not proven breeders. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that there could be uncollared wolves that form either a group or a pack. If they are confirmed through trapping, sightings, or other field methods they will be included in the appropriate category.

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS As of the end of September, the collared population consisted of 26 wolves, in eleven packs, and two lone wolves. Based on other field data (sightings, tracks, howling etc.), there could be at least 25-30 additional wolves, including pups and uncollared wolves, distributed among the packs and groups. The current population estimate is 51-56 wolves in the wild. Efforts will focus on confirming other uncollared wolves which may exist in the wild. Arizona: Aspen Pack (AF667, AM512, uncollared m871, and collared pups f872, f873), Bluestem Pack (AF521, AM507, two uncollared wolves, and five pups), Cienega Pack (AF487, two uncollared wolves, and at least three pups), Hawks Nest Pack (AF486, AM619, and at least two pups), Iris Pack (AM798, an uncollared wolf, and at least one pup), Rim Pack (AF858, an uncollared wolf, and two pups), lone wolf M795, lone wolf m859; and, Hon-Dah Pack (AM578 and two uncollared wolves), located on the FAIR. New Mexico: Francisco Pack (AF511, an uncollared wolf, and at least two pups), Luna Pack (AF562, AM583), Saddle Pack (AF797, AM732, and pups m860, f861, f862, m863, m864), and San Mateo Pack (AF903, AM796).

All wolf sighting reports are recorded and evaluated. Sightings should be reported in a timely manner in order for the IFT to be most responsive.

TRANSLOCATION On September 28, AF903 and AM796 of the San Mateo Pack were captured at the Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility. They were given physical exams and radio collared. The following day, they were packed into the Gila Wilderness on mules and put into a mesh acclimation pen at McKenna Park. On September 30, the wolves chewed out of their pen. These wolves had previously been captured and removed from the San Mateo Mountains in New Mexico because they were outside the recovery area.

MONITORING Personnel have begun trapping to capture un-collared wolves and field efforts continue to focus on monitoring wolf activity.

Arizona: On September 12, a report was received from a resident on the Blue River corridor of a collared and uncollared wolf harassing a calf in a corral. Project personnel investigated and it was determined that AF667 and AM512, of the Aspen pack, were in the area. Project personnel began intensive monitoring and hazing of these wolves from the area. Two Radio Activated Guard (RAG) boxes, which emit noise and flashing lights when a radio-collared wolf is nearby, were placed in the area. Hazing with 12 gauge cracker shells and harassment of the pair by walking in on them appeared to be successful in temporarily moving them out of the area. Both adults moved back to near the release site where the pups were. Recently, however, AM512 and f872 were again located within a half-mile of a dwelling with livestock and poultry on the Blue River corridor, but were successfully hazed from the area. Project personnel will continue to monitor and respond as necessary.

On September 13, Aspen m871 slipped its radio-collar, which was found near the release site in the vicinity of Hannagan Meadow.

M859 was recently located near the Hawks Nest pair in the Crosby Crossing area, but does not appear to be traveling with them.

M795 was located on the FAIR.

The Bluestem Pack, Cienega Pack alpha female, Hawks Nest Pack, and Rim Pack remained in their normal home ranges in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, as did the Hon-Dah Pack alpha male on FAIR. The Iris Pack continues to use their normal home range in the northwestern portion of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area and the northern portion of FAIR.

New Mexico: The Francisco Pack alpha female and the Luna Pack remained in their normal home ranges in the Gila National Forest. Project personnel attempted to capture and radio-collar Francisco Pack AF511's mate and pups during September but no wolves were captured.

The Saddle Pack has moved several miles from their release pen at McKenna Park, and remained together.

Observation reports of wolves from the public are important as many of the wolves are currently dispersing. Please call the toll free number listed above to report wolf sighting as soon as possible after the sightings. Thank you for your help.

INCIDENTS Wildlife Services investigated four livestock depredations. Three were confirmed to have died of natural causes and the fourth, reported by project personnel, was determined to have died from being struck by a vehicle.

CAPTIVE MANAGEMENT See “Translocation” above.

COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION On September 1, a wolf project coordination meeting was held in Phoenix. Agency heads from each of the project cooperators attended, as well as other agency personnel involved in the project. The purpose of the meeting was to increase communication and coordination, as well as provide a forum for questions and answers among all project personnel.

On September 24, Dan Groebner gave a presentation at the annual meeting of the Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers in San Diego. The presentation covered a project update as well as the Mexican wolf project software used for navigation and data collection.

The next Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) meeting will be held October 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the conference room of the Rode Inn, located at 242 E. Mail St., in Springerville, Arizona. This meeting is open to the public.

PROJECT PERSONNEL: Paul Overy, AGFD IFT Leader, submitted his resignation effective September 24. Dan Groebner will be acting as AGFD IFT Leader until the position is filled. Thank you Paul for all you have done over the past 3 years for the project!

Luis Gonzales, a USFWS volunteer, has ended his position.

John R. Morgart has accepted the position of Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator with the USFWS in Albuquerque. His tentative start date is November 15. Currently, he is the USFWS Sonoran pronghorn recovery coordinator.

Shawn Farry will be starting with the Project in October as an AGFD Wildlife Technician.

Colby Gardner will be working with the Project on a 60-day emergency, non-competitive hire for the USFWS.

REWARDS OFFERED The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican gray wolves. An additional $35,000 is being offered by a variety of public interest groups for a total amount of up to $45,000, depending on the information provided. Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents in Mesa, AZ, at (480) 967-7900, or Albuquerque, NM, at (505) 346-7828; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263. Killing a Mexican gray wolf is a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act, and can invoke criminal penalties of up to $25,000 and/or six (6) months in jail or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.