Nine Mexican wolves have died in the wild since the beginning of 2008. Foul play was responsible for three of the deaths, according to a release from the the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service.
Necropsy results from the service’s wildlife forensic laboratory are still pending for one wolf, the release said.
Female wolves known as AF1111, AF1112 and AF1113 were illegally shot. The fate of AM583 has yet to be determined, the release stated.
Mexican wolves are identified by numbers preceded with an AF to show adult female gender and an AM for adult male gender. The A signifies the wolf was the lead, or alpha member, of the pack. Generally only the alpha members of a pack mate and bear young, the release said.
“I feel every wolf on the landscape deserves a chance to survive without being illegally killed,” said Benjamin N. Tuggle, regional director of the services’ Southwest Region, in the release. “I am disturbed that there are suspicious circumstances around their deaths and I want to know what happened to each wolf. All of our available law enforcement resources will be used to conduct a comprehensive investigation.
“These illegal actions are not going to stop the reintroduction program,” Tuggle said in the release.” We fully intend to establish a genetically sound population of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona.”
Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act. It 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.
The service is seeking any individual who may have seen any suspicious activities relating to the Mexican wolf deaths to contact one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in in Albuquerque, at (505) 346-7828; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or, NMDGF Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263.
The service offers a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the individual(s) responsible for any wolf deaths.
Wolves have been released into the wild since 1998. Two wolves, f1104 and m1109, were accidentally hit by vehicles in separate incidents earlier in the year, the release said. One female, AF758, likely died of natural causes. Its young pups, f1116 and m1117, did not survive, likely as a result of losing their mother as the primary food provider.