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For Immediate Release, June 4, 2007

Contact: Michael Robinson, (505) 534-0360

Saddle Pack of Mexican Gray Wolves Destroyed by Government

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The last members of the Saddle Pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves have now been removed from the wild with the trapping of the five-year-old, wild-born alpha female on May 31, and the trapping of her mate on May 26. After the male was trapped, the female moved the seven three-week-old pups out of their den in the Elk Mountains of the Gila National Forest to a new locale in a canyon about a mile away, but with her radio collar she (and the pups) could not escape.  The pups have been captured also.

The alpha female began killing cattle only after having first scavenged on the carcass of a cow that died of non-wolf causes, according to published field notes from the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The Saddle Pack’s last depredation was two months ago, and there is no indication they would necessarily have preyed on livestock ever again.

Most of the Saddle Pack have already been destroyed. The alpha female’s mother was the “poster wolf” for the Mexican wolf program and died of capture-related stress in 2005; her capture also stemmed from preying on cattle after she apparently became habituated from scavenging on a cow carcass of an animal not killed by wolves. The alpha female’s father was hit by a car after his pack split up following trapping from the wild and re-release. Most of her siblings and most pups from her three previous litters were killed by poachers or as a result of capture. Another pack member was shot from the air in March. Her first mate was shot by the government in July 2004 after he had been identified by the Fish and Wildlife Service as genetically irreplaceable.

The Saddle Pack alpha male was born in captivity and is one of the most valuable animals genetically because he stems from all three lineages of the Mexican wolf.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish excel in destroying endangered wolves,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The loss of the Saddle Pack is another cruel and senseless chapter in the mismanagement of North America’s most imperiled mammal.”

Added Robinson, “What a travesty that these precious lobo pups will now grow up in a cage.”

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