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.
Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly UpdateGenetic results from a male pup, mp1561, in the Leopold Pack indicate that the breeding female of the Leopold Pack is AF1346; a pup cross-fostered into the Dark Canyon Pack in 2014. This confirms the first instance of a Mexican wolf cross-fostered into a wild den surviving to and successfully reproducing offspring. This is a significant accomplishment in recovery efforts to increase genetic diversity in the wild population through cross-fostering efforts. M1347 of the Baldy Pack was also cross-fostered into the Dark Canyon pack in 2014. M1347 has survived to reproductive age and has paired with f1445 which was named the Baldy Pack by the IFT in September 2016.
On December 1, 2016, the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Council met to discuss requests for depredation compensation that varied from the depredation compensation guidelines. The Council also discussed how they would use estate funds that were provided to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for conservation of the Mexican wolf.
On December 6, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service gave a recovery award to Chairman Lupe of the White Mountain Apache Tribe for their exceptional contributions to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program. The Mexican wolf population on the 1.6 million-acre Fort Apache Indian Reservation has grown and now contributes substantially to the overall recovery of the Mexican wolf. Over fifteen years ago, the White Mountain Apache Tribe became the first tribe to officially facilitate Mexican wolf recovery.
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.
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
Population monitoring requires year round effort documenting births, deaths, survival, total numbers, and distribution. Mortality occurs throughout the year and is particularly high on young pups, so while the IFT has documented reproduction this year, the IFT will not have a complete idea of how many of these young pups and adults have died until the annual population survey which is conducted in the winter. Annual surveys are conducted in the winter because it is when the population is experiencing 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. At this time, the IFT’s best population estimate is that there was a minimum of 97 wolves in the wild as of December 31, 2015. End of year counts for 2016 are currently ongoing and will be completed in February 2017. At the end of December, there were 56 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring.
Bear Wallow Pack (collared AM1338 and AF1335)In December, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).
Bluestem Pack (collared M1382, F1488, F1443, fp1562, and fp1563)In December, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. M1382 and F1488 from the Bluestem Pack displayed dispersal behavior during the month. F1443 continued to travel with m1447, of the Diamond Pack, in New Mexico near the Arizona border.
Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, AM1342, mp1474, and mp1471) In December, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF.
Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038) In December, the Hawks Nest Pack was mostly located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. The IFT documented movements by AM1038 outside of the normal pack territory. Two additional sets of wolf tracks with AM1038 and photos from a remote camera indicate male sub-adults M1383 and m1483 from the Hawks Nest Pack may still be traveling with AM1038.
Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, m1441, fp1549, and fp1550)In December, the Hoodoo Pack remained in the north central portion of the ASNF.
Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)In December, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF. AM1183 was documented traveling with AF1291.
Panther Creek Pack (collared AF1339, AM1394, mp1483, fp1484, and mp1486)In December, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF.
ON THE FAIR:
Diamond Pack (collared m1447, f1557, mp1558, mp1559 and fp1560)In December, the Diamond Pack was located in the eastern portion of the FAIR, the northern portion of the ASNF and on private lands north of the ASNF. Sub-adult m1447 continued to be documented traveling with F1443, of the Bluestem Pack, in New Mexico near the Arizona border.
Tsay-O-Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)In December, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR.
Baldy Pack (collared M1347 and f1445)In December, the Baldy Pack was located in the eastern portion of the FAIR and northern portion of the ASNF.
IN NEW MEXICO:
Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992 and f1444) During December, the IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF). During December, f1444 was often located near Eagle Peak in NM.
Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278 and mp1556)During December, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF.
Lava Pack (collared F1405)During December, the IFT continued to document F1405 (formerly of the Buckalou Pack) traveling within the Lava Pack’s traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF.
Leopold Pack (collared AM1293 and mp1561)During December, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and southern portion of the GNF.
Luna Pack (collared AF1487 and mp1554)During December, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and F1439)During December, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in north western portions of the GNF in New Mexico.
Prieto Pack (collared M1386, m1455, f1456, M1552, f1553 and fp1565)During December, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. There has been dispersal behavior documented for M1386, m1455, f1456, f1553 and M1552 within the GNF. Remote cameras documented f1553 and M1398 traveling with AF1251 and other uncollared wolves in the Prieto Pack. Photos from remote cameras taken later in the month revealed AF1251 traveling with M1398 and f1553 was traveling with AM1284 of the SBP Pack.
San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399)December, the IFT documented the San Mateo Pack within their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared AM1284)During December, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. AM1284 was documented on remote cameras traveling with f1553 of the Prieto Pack.
Willow Springs Pack (collared F1397)During December, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Single collared AM1155During December, AM1155 was documented traveling within New Mexico.
Single collared M1398 During December, M1398 was documented traveling with AF1251 of the Prieto Pack in the west central portion of the GNF.
Single collared M1354During December, M1354 was documented traveling in southern portions of the GNF and northern Gila Wilderness. M1354 has been documented traveling with members of the Leopold Pack; M1354 is full siblings to AM1293.
There were no documented mortalities in the month of December.
During the month of December, there was one confirmed wolf kill and no nuisance reports.
On December 14, Wildlife Services investigated two dead calves in Apache County, Arizona. The investigations determined both of the calves were killed by coyotes.
On December 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On December 23, Wildlife Services investigated a dead adult cow in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the cow died from unknown causes.
COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION
On December 7, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service met with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Chairman of the New Mexico State Game Commission to discuss issues regarding the recovery of the Mexican wolf.
On December 8, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service convened a meeting of the Mexican Wolf Tribal Working Group to discuss the status of recovery planning for the Mexican wolf.
On December 14, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service presented on Mexican wolves and the Mexican Wolf Recovery program for the Superstition Area Land Trust in Apache Junction.
On December 14, 2016 WMAT met with the USDA-Farm Service Agency regarding livestock loss compensation options for Tribal cattle growers.
On December 15, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service held a community information meeting in Young, Arizona to discuss the status of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and listen to issues and concerns raised by the public. The US Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department were in attendance.
On December 20, 2016 the Fish and Wildlife Service met with the US Forest Service regarding coordination of Mexican wolf recovery efforts, including the status of NEPA review for release sites in Zone 1 of the expanded Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area.
On December 29, 2016 WMAT presented on Mexican wolf biology and recovery at a community event in Vermont.
During December, USFWS volunteer Craig Zurek left the volunteer program for other professional opportunities. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication Craig!
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.