CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| For Immediate Release -- July 22, 2005
Contact: Michael Robinson 505-534-0360
More Information: Mexican Wolf Web
FAMOUS WOLF DIES OF STRESS AND OVERHEATING AS A RESULT OF CAPTURE
The last Mexican gray wolf to roam free from among the first eleven lobos released into the wild seven years ago was accidentally killed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service three and a half weeks after she was trapped.
Wolf number 511 of the Francisco Pack, also known as Brunhilda (for her large size as a pup, reminiscent of a figure in Norse mythology), died of stress and overheating on July 20 as a result of being handled in captivity.
Her photo taken in March 1998 as she stepped out a pen into freedom was made famous as a poster put out by the Fish and Wildlife Service and adorns the Forest Service's map of the Blue Range of Arizona, where she was first released.
"I'm shocked she's dead," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, in Pinos Altos, New Mexico, by the Gila National Forest. "What happened to her is unbelievably sad."
When wolf 511's wild-born mate in the Francisco Pack was captured in June, his leg had to be amputated as a result of a trap injury. Their pups were captured also. Her previous litter of five wild-conceived pups died from stress from the noise of a construction project near their pen, in spring 2003, as a result of an earlier bout in captivity.
Her first mate was killed by a hit-and-run driver at the edge of Silver City, New Mexico after the pack had been removed from the wild in Arizona, released in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, and then disintegrated -- with the individual wolves roaming widely.
Brunhilda was trapped from the wild twice for having left the arbitrary bounds of the Mexican wolf recovery area, and twice later for preying on cattle after having scavenged on the carcasses of cattle she had not killed. Including her 2003 pups and her last mate, she is the thirteenth wolf to have died as a direct result of federal government predator control since the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction began.
Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to address the problem of livestock carcasses, nor has it rescinded its rule requiring that wolves be captured for leaving the recovery area, despite the June 2001 warnings in the Paquet Report, written by independent scientists led by Paul C. Paquet, Ph.D. of the University of Calgary, that without these reforms the wolf population would fail to meet objectives.
Dozens of other wolves have also died or been removed from the wild as an indirect result of federal mismanagement. The census population of 44 wolves at the end of 2004 represents a 20% decline from the previous year, and contrasts with the 68 animals originally projected by the government for the end of the seventh year of reintroduction.
In December 2004, the government documented a 91% correspondence between Mexican wolves that scavenge on livestock carcasses and those that end up preying on stock. In Wyoming and Idaho where northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves were reintroduced in 1995, federal regulations prohibit wolf control where wolves kill cattle as a result of being drawn in through carcasses. But no such protections exist in the Southwest. The population in the northern Rocky Mountains climbed exponentially since that reintroduction began, and today is estimated at almost 800 wolves.
H. Dale Hall, Southwest Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and recently nominated to become national director of the agency, has refused to forward to Washington, D.C. his field staff's draft of a Federal Register rule change that would allow wolves to roam freely. Thus Mexican wolves, unlike their counterparts in the northern Rockies, continue to be trapped for leaving their recovery area -- even when they are on other national forests and BLM public lands.
"This wolf was put through the ringer," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. "How many more endangered lobos are going to be trapped, shot, lose their pups and die of shock and stress as a result of the Bush Administration's refusal to follow scientific recommendations?"
The Fish and Wildlife Service identified the Mexican gray wolf as the most endangered mammal in North America in 1986. Between 1915 and 1945, the federal government had poisoned, trapped and dug out the dens of all the gray wolves in the western United States. Starting in 1950, the Fish and Wildlife Service began sending U.S. Government-manufactured poison and American salaried personnel to Mexico to do the same there, and that program continued through the 1960s.
After president Richard M. Nixon's signing of the Endangered Species Act into law on December 28, 1973, the last five remaining Mexican gray wolves were captured alive in Mexico for an emergency captive breeding program that culminated in the 1998 reintroduction.