For Immediate Release, May 1, 2020
Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, email@example.com
Public Records Sought After Federal Agents Kill Four Wolves in New Mexico
Alpha Male, Three Pups Killed In March
SILVER CITY, N.M.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed Freedom of Information Act requests to determine what led federal agencies in March to kill four endangered Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico, including whether the kill orders were influenced by the state’s powerful livestock industry.
Two of the wolves killed in March were pups – brother and sister – of the Mangas pack, which lives near the Arizona state line. The other two wolves were the alpha male of the Prieto pack and his male pup.
“The public has every right to know precisely how and why two out-of-control government agencies decided to massacre four of America’s most endangered animals,” said Michael Robinson of the Center.
On March 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the killing of one wolf from the Prieto pack. Ten days later, the Service authorized the killing of two wolf pups from the Mangas pack. The kill-authorization order specifically targeted pups as well as wolves with no radio collars.
On March 23 the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed a male pup from the Prieto pack and the following day the Fish and Wildlife Service approved the killing of the pup’s father.
In response, Wildlife Services killed three more wolves on March 28: the Prieto pack’s alpha male and two pups from the Mangas pack. The synchronicity of their deaths suggests that these three animals were all shot from the air.
“This despicable killing spree is exactly the kind of mismanagement that has kept wolves in the Southwest from recovering,” Robinson said. “These wolves deserve better.”
On April 15 the Fish and Wildlife Service opened up a 60-day public comment period as the beginning step in its revision of the 2015 Mexican wolf management rule, which a federal district judge ordered rewritten in response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies. The court found that Fish and Wildlife had committed an “egregious oversight” in ignoring scientists’ findings that removing many wolves from the wild and releasing few of them from captivity would cause severe genetic problems and stymie recovery.
The Mexican gray wolf is the southernmost subspecies of gray wolf in North America, and the most endangered. Federal employees have shot and killed 20 wolves since reintroduction began in 1998, and an additional 22 wolves have died inadvertently as a result of capture operations.
The 2017 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan calls for reducing the numbers of wolves removed by the federal government but does not impose any limits to actually restrict killings like the ones that occurred in March.
In 1917 the predecessor agency of today’s Fish and Wildlife Service began trapping and poisoning wolves in the Southwest on behalf of the livestock industry. Almost all resident wolves were eliminated by the late 1920s, and wolves crossing the border from Mexico were quickly killed. In 1950 the Service began sending its experienced wolf poisoners to Mexico, along with government-produced poisons, as agricultural foreign aid.
After the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act, five wolves were captured alive in Mexico, and three of them were successfully bred. Descendants of those three were later bred with descendants of four other wolves captured in the 1950s and 1960s, and the descendants of those seven founders were reintroduced into New Mexico and Arizona in 1998. At last count 163 wild wolves live in Arizona and New Mexico, and approximately 30 live wild in Mexico, where reintroduction began in 2011.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.