Last Tuesday, a crew of 11 dedicated students left Albuquerque before the sun was even hinting at its return to the sky to help conserve one of the most endangered subspecies of wolves in the world: our lobo, the Mexican gray wolf.This, the rarest subspecies of wolf in North America, was historically common in the Southwest until it was hunted, trapped, and poisoned to near extinction in the 1970’s. Since 1977, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been working to conserve this species as part of an international effort to capture, breed, and release wolves back into the wilds of New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. Here in the state of New Mexico, there are multiple pre-release wolf facilities, including one on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).The 11 students, hailing from Bosque School, Amy Biehl High School, and the University of New Mexico braved freezing temperatures and a very early wake up call to help capture and transfer two yearling male wolves from Sevilleta NWR to a facility in California where they will hopefully be paired with female wolves. In order to capture these individuals, a human wall was formed to walk the naturally fearful wolves into a corner den box where they were restrained by experienced personnel. The wolves were then given subcutaneous hydrating fluids (a saline solution injected into the space under the skin, to be absorbed by the body during their long journey), placed in a crate, and sent on their way. Led by the awesome women of the USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, this operation depended on our student team to assist in the capture, administer the subcutaneous fluids, and help carry the crated wolves to the transport van.
In a July interview with the Revelator – a news site published by the Center For Biological Diversity – former government trapper and wolf recovery expert Carter Niemeyer said wolf recovery can continue with or without federal protection now that there is a sustainable wolf population.“I think a lot people mistake an ESA listing as a permanent state of affairs, but it was never meant to function that way,” he said in the interview. “Other regions that fall outside of ESA recovery areas, like Colorado, still need more time for wolf numbers to increase, and I think they will. Wolves are prolific and resilient and I believe they will ultimately succeed in most areas where basic habitat needs, open space and abundant prey are all available — and all of this can happen even without ESA protection.”
Wolf biologist Doug Smith wants to smarten up Yellowstone’s wolves.As Yellowstone National Park’s senior wildlife biologist, Smith has witnessed naive, habituated wolves being hunted down easily outside of the park, where people can legally point rifles instead of cameras. Since wolf hunting seasons outside the 2.2-million-acre park’s borders in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming aren’t going to come to an end, Smith wants to start teaching wolves a life-saving lesson: People aren’t safe.“Right now, if they’re crossing the road we may leave them alone,” Smith told the News&Guide this week. “Now we’re thinking of pounding them. If you get close to people, you’re going to get hit.”
It was a chance encounter between Marc Cooke and 926F.The wolf looked as though it could be a dog. It paced about 50 yards off the road where Cooke’s wife spotted the female, closer than most wolves got to human admirers at Yellowstone National Park. The trip was her first time out with her husband to search for the predators.Cooke snapped a picture of the wolf that some enthusiasts call Spitfire.That was in August 2012, a few months before a hunter legally killed Spitfire’s mother outside the park.The pack leader was affectionately known as “06” to her followers, for the year she was born, and Cooke watched her from afar for years, he told The Washington Post on Sunday.