A female Mexican gray wolf wandering beyond the endangered species’ recovery area into the northern reaches of New Mexico has been captured, authorities said Monday.
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department used a helicopter to locate and capture the wolf on Sunday.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Albuquerque said the wolf will be held temporarily in captivity and paired with a male Mexican wolf “for transfer as a pair to Mexico later this year.”
They said the wolf first moved north of the arbitrary boundary of Interstate 40 in New Mexico on January 2 and then showed no sign of returning to the experimental population recovery area.
THE RETURN OF THE MICHIGAN GRAY WOLF MAY BE COMPLETE AS THE POPULATION STABILIZES
Authorities said last week that a map showed the wolf near Taos and south of the Colorado border.
“As it is breeding season and there are no other known wolves in the area, there is a high probability of negative interaction or breeding with domestic dogs,” Fish and Wildlife Service officials said in a statement.
The wolf, from Arizona’s Rocky Prairie Pack, was called “Asha” by schoolchildren.
Their roaming reignited a debate about whether predators should be confined to a certain stretch of the southwestern US while wildlife managers work to increase the population.
Environmentalists have been fighting in federal court to overturn a requirement that the Fish and Wildlife Service capture wolves that roam north of I-40.
Last week, conservation advocates called on authorities to allow the wolf to continue on its journey.
“This wolf’s name, Asha, means ‘hope’ in Sanskrit,” said Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter. “What could be more suited to a wolf exploring and surviving the big world on his own as wolves throughout the Southwest have historically done?”
Collared wolves have trekked north of I-40 only a few times since 2015, when the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area was established, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Conflicts between wolves and livestock have been a major challenge to the reintroduction program for the past two decades, and ranchers say the killing of livestock by wolves remains a threat to their livelihoods despite the efforts of managers. of wildlife to scare off wolves and repay some of the losses. .
The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. According to the most recent survey released in early 2022, there were at least 196 Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. It marked the sixth consecutive year that the population had increased.