Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project News - July 01-31, 2017

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and New Mexico.  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf

Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically.

This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

To view semi-monthly wolf telemetry flight location information please visit www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/RWL.cfm.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to:  the Alpine wolf office (928) 339-4329, Pinetop wolf office (928-532-2391) or toll free at (888) 459-9653.  To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at(800) 352-0700.

Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update

The Fish and Wildlife Service published the draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, First Revision for public review and comment and for peer review on June 30, 2017. The public comment period closes August 29, 2017. Comments must be submitted in writing by either of the following methods:

Electronically: Go to www.regulations.gov and enter FWS-R2-ES-2017-0036

Or

Hard copy: Submit by US mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2017-0036, US Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has also made available the Draft Biological Report and two supporting analyses – “Population Viability Analysis for the Mexican Wolf” and “Mexican Wolf Habitat Suitability Analysis in Historical Range in Southwestern US and Mexico,” to the public as supplemental background information during the public comment period. These documents, as well as the draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, First Revision are available at: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/MWRP.cfm.

The Fish and Wildlife Service held four public information meetings on the Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, First Revisions. The public information meetings were held July 18 in Flagstaff, AZ; July 19 at the Hon-Dah Resort, AZ; July 20 in Truth or Consequences, NM; and July 22 in Albuquerque, NM. All four meetings were well attended and provided the opportunity to ask questions about the draft recovery plan and the science that supports it.

On July 13 and 14, the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan held its annual binational planning meeting in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. Discussions involved recommendations for captive breeding and transfers of Mexican wolves in 2017 and 2018, as well as research needs and results.

July 27, AGFD and USFWS personnel conducted presentations at the Arizona Cattlemen's Association Annual meeting in Prescott, AZ about IFT activities and the Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

Numbering System:  Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Definitions:  A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory.  In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status.  The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it.  The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs.  If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population experiences the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year. This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups.

During annual year-end population counts, the IFT documented a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016. At the end of May, there were 58 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring.

Wolves with functioning radio collars are listed by studbook number in the pack updates below.

IN ARIZONA:

Bear Wallow Pack (collared M1338 and F1335)
In July, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory on the SCAR and in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF). They have displayed localized behavior consistent with pup rearing and use of rendezvous sites. A minimum of three pups were documented with the Bear Wallow Pack in July; however this number is subject to change as the IFT continues to document observations of this pack.

Bluestem Pack (collared F1489 and f1563)
In July, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. Male 1574 showed dispersal behavior and was documented traveling with the Panther Creek Pack. The IFT documented AF1042, AM1341, F1489, and f1563 showing localized behavior consistent with pup rearing in July. The IFT conducted prey carcass investigations as part of a kill rate study of the Bluestem Pack during the month of July.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, m1471, m1474, and f1473)
In July, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. The pack displayed localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during the month of July.

Frieborn Pack (collared F1443 and m1447)
In July, F1443 and m1447 were documented within their territory in the east central portion of the ASNF in Arizona and into New Mexico. They displayed localized behavior consistent with pup rearing in July. The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache during July for this pack to reduce potential for livestock depredations.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
In July, the Hawks Nest Pack consisted of one collared wolf, AM1038. AM1038 was located traveling alone in the traditional territory of the Diamond Pack in the northern portion of the ASNF.

Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, and fp1550)
In July, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. The IFT confirmed pups with the Hoodoo Pack in July and continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing. The IFT conducted prey carcass investigations as part of a kill rate study of the Hoodoo Pack during the month of July.

Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)
In July, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and east central portion of the ASNF.

Panther Creek Pack (collared AF1339, AM1382, and m1574)
In July, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF. The breeding pair continued to display localized behavior consistent with pup rearing. The IFT maintained a food cache for this pack to reduce potential for livestock depredations and to supplement cross-fostered pups.

Prime Canyon Pack (collared F1488)
In July, F1488 and an unknown collared wolf continued to travel together within a territory in the east-central portion of the ASNF.

Saffel Pack (collared AF1567)
In July, the Saffel Pack was located in the north central portion of the ASNF, north of the traditional territory of the Hoodoo Pack. The IFT confirmed pups with the Saffel Pack in July and continued to observe behavior consistent with pup rearing. A diversionary food cache was maintained by the IFT for this pack in effort to avoid conflict with cattle in the area.

Single collared m1483
Male 1483 made wide dispersal movements in the northern portion of the ASNF in Arizona during July.

Single collared f1484
Female 1484 was documented traveling alone in Arizona at the southern edge of Panther Creek’s traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF during July.

Single collared f1562
Female 1562 made wide dispersal movements to the northeast of Bluestem’s traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF during July.

ON THE FAIR:

Diamond Pack (collared f1557, mp1559, fp1560, mp1571 and mp1572)
In July, the Diamond Pack was located in their traditional territory on the FAIR and in the northern portion of the ASNF. The IFT initiated and maintained a diversionary food cache on the ASNF for the Diamond Pack to reduce potential for further wolf-livestock conflict.

Tsay-O-Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)
In July, the Tsay-O-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory on the FAIR.

IN NEW MEXICO:

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278 and mp1556)
During July, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF). The IFT confirmed pups with the Iron Creek Pack in May and continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during July.

Lava Pack (collared F1405 and AM1285)
During July, the Lava Pack was located within their traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF. The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts. The Lava Pack continued to display localized behavior consistent with pup rearing.

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, AF1346 and mp1561)
During July, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness. The IFT continued to monitor the pack for pup rearing behavior in July.

Luna Pack (collared AM1158 and AF1487)
During July, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the Gila National Forest. The IFT maintained a diversionary food cache to reduce potential for livestock depredations. The Luna Pack continued to display behavior consistent with pup rearing.

Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and F1439)
During July, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in the north western portion of the GNF. The IFT continued to maintain a diversionary food cache to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts. The Mangas Pack continued to display behavior consistent with pup rearing.

Dark Canyon (collared F1444 and M1386)
During July, F1444 and M1386 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF. Although the Dark Canyon Pack displayed behavior consistent with denning in late April, the IFT does not believe the pack is currently maintaining a den.

Copper Creek (collared F1456 and M1354)
During July, F1456 and M1354 were documented traveling together within the west central portions of the GNF. Although the Copper Creek Pack displayed behavior consistent with denning in early May, the IFT does not believe the pack is currently maintaining a den.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, M1398 and fp1565)
During July, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. The IFT confirmed pups with the Prieto Pack in July and continued to observe localized behavior consistent with pup rearing. A diversionary food cache was established in May to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts and was utilized by the Prieto Pack in July.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399)
During July, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF. The IFT maintained a supplemental food cache to assist the pack’s care for the genetically diverse litter of pups. The San Mateo Pack continued to display behavior consistent with denning. Field observations documented two adults and a minimum of two pups during the month of July; however, there may be additional pups and uncollared wolves associated with this pack.

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared AM1284 and F1553)
During July, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. The IFT confirmed pups with the SBP pack in May and observed the pack continued to display localized behavior consistent with pup rearing during the month of July. The IFT established a diversionary food cache in June to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflicts. The food cache was utilized by the SBP pack during the month of July.

Single AM1155
During July, AM1155 was documented traveling within the GNF in New Mexico.

Single collared M1455
During July, M1455 traveled throughout east-central portions of the GNF and central portions of the Cibola National Forest (CNF).

Single collared M1552
During July, M1552 traveled throughout central portions of the Cibola National Forest (CNF).

Single collared m1569
During July, m1569 traveled throughout northern and central portions of the CNF.

Single collared m1486
During July, m1486 traveled throughout northern and central portions of the CNF.

MORTALITIES

There were no mortalities documented during the month of July.

INCIDENTS

During the month of July, there were 3 confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock and no nuisance reports.

On July 4, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf was a probable wolf kill.

On July 4, Wildlife Services investigated four dead horses in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the horses been killed by lightning.

On July 5, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow died from an unknown cause, but was not killed by wolves.

On July 5, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf had been killed by coyotes.

On July 11, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow was a probable wolf kill.

On July 14, Wildlife Services investigated three dead calves in Apache County, AZ. The investigations determined all three calves were killed by wolves. Two of the calves were killed during a single depredation incident.

On July 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead bull in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the bull was a confirmed wolf.

COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

On July 14, the IFT conducted an education and outreach presentation to a group of tribal high school students from New Mexico.

On July 20, the IFT gave an education and outreach presentation to a group from the Arizona Conservation Corps.

PROJECT PERSONNEL

In July, Maya Stahl concluded her internship with the AGFD. Thank you Maya for your hard work and contribution to wolf recovery efforts!

REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at(505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-4263.  Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.