| For Immediate Release: June 19, 2006
Contact: Michael Robinson: 505-534-0360
New Interior Secretary Requested to Halt
Conservation and animal protection groups called on newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to issue an emergency moratorium on predator control directed against Mexican gray wolves, until this population of the reintroduced endangered species stabilizes and reaches its demographic objective.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, within the Department of the Interior, has issued an order to kill the recently released Nantac Pack, which consists of two survivors of past predator control actions who were released into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico in late April 2006. In early May, this pair scavenged on a bull that had perished from disease, and the wolves later killed three cows. The male wolf has already been killed, and the female will likely be shot from the air very soon.
“We’re saddened at his unnecessary death,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the 22 signatories of the letter to Kempthorne. “Only an immediate moratorium issued by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne can save the Nantac female.”
Robinson added: “If the Fish and Wildlife Service had followed scientists’ recommendations to keep wolves from scavenging on carcasses of cows and horses that they did not kill, the Nantac Pack would still be roaming the hills of the Gila together today.”
Mexican wolves were reintroduced in 1998 to the Gila and Apache National Forests in, respectively, southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, with the goal of reaching at least 100 animals by the end of this year. It is believed there are presently fewer than 40 wolves in the wild plus an unknown number of pups born this year, and the population is declining.
The federal predator control program wiped out wolves originally and since their reintroduction has significantly contributed to the reduction of the census population of Mexican wolves in the wild from 55 at the end of 2003, to 44 at the end of 2004, to 35 at the end of 2005 – a 20% decrease in each year.
Within the last month, federal agents killed eleven wolves, including six pups from one pack. A seventh pup was orphaned and has likely died of starvation as a result of losing its parents.
The letter endorsed by the 22 groups is available here as a PDF document.