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Critically endangered wolf killed after escaping enclosure

[large thumbnail url=”critically-endangered-wolf-killed-after-escaping-enclosure” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”06″ day=”09″] [thumbnail icon url=”critically-endangered-wolf-killed-after-escaping-enclosure” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”06″ day=”09″] St. Paul, Minn. — A Mexican gray wolf was shot and killed at the Minnesota Zoo on Wednesday after it escaped through a hole in the fence and appeared on the walking path for visitors.

Zoo officials said no people were in immediate danger but they decided to shoot the wolf because they couldn’t predict where it would go or whether it would hurt people visiting the Northern Trail.

“He wasn’t aggressive, he was trying to get away as fast as he could, but wolves can be dangerous if they’re cornered,” said Tony Fisher, the zoo’s animal collection manager. “We didn’t want to take a chance.”

Fisher said the 8-year-old male wolf was in a holding area and not on exhibit when he escaped through a gap in the fence that might have been caused by the weight of heavy snow over the winter. Officials planned to use tranquilizers to stop the wolf, but then he jumped over a second fence designed to keep animals that escape from the holding area away from the public, Fisher said…

Read the entire article on minnesota.publicradio.org: Wolf shot and killed after escaping at Minnesota Zoo

This is particularly disturbing due to the fact that it was a Mexican Gray wolf, which numbers around 50 animals in the wild and as such the captive population is particularly important in the reintroduction process. It’s not clear if the wolf that was killed was viable in terms of breeding, but according to David L. Mech, there was little to no risk posed by the wolf.

From a small post on MinnPost.com:

“The zoo had to create the perception that it had done everything possible to protect the public — even if the public didn’t really need protecting. The myth that wolves in North America are dangerous to people is one of the most enduring of all,” said Mech, a wolf researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey and vice chair of the International Wolf Center in Ely.

“They were protecting themselves from the perception and the insurance and so many other things. It would have looked pretty bad if the wolf got out of the zoo and caused a big fuss around town. But I don’t think there was any risk to anyone,”

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