Confirmed: 14 endangered Mexican gray wolves killed in 2016
Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) confirmed that 14 endangered Mexican gray wolves were killed in 2016. While the Mexican gray wolf recovery efforts have been met with mixed emotions among residents in New Mexico and Arizona, it is illegal to kill one of these predators because they are federally protected. Last year’s death count is the highest in any year since the Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced in 1998.
According to the Associated Press, two of the deaths occurred during a botched capture and collar procedure when biologists were trying to keep tabs on the faltering population; the other incidents are still under investigation. FWS fears that the illegal killing will continue as the gray wolves expand their range within the Southwest. The probable range expansion has prompted action towards finally reaching an agreement on an updated wolf recovery plan – something that California already has in place. In fact, FWS is now under a court order to complete the plan within the 2017 calendar year, according to the Associated Press.
As goHUNT has previously reported, an increase in wolf-livestock interactions has propelled ranchers and residents to vocalize their aversion for FWS’s push for Mexican wolf recovery. The most recent tally counts about 100 Mexican gray wolves within Arizona and New Mexico – a number that is too low to argue lifting federal protections.
Stay tuned to goHUNT for more updates on the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan.