HOWL Colorado

Researchers unintentionally kill a Mexican gray wolf

A field team seeking to collar some of the very rare wolves instead killed a young wolf. 

While attempting to collar members of the Bluestem pack, padded leg traps were used to capture some of the wolves in Arizona’s Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.

A female yearling got caught by one of the traps and, according to Arizona Game and Fish officials, escaped to a rocky edge, out of reach of the team.

The team did eventually manage to get to the young wolf, but she had stopped breathing and resuscitation attempts failed.

According to officials only 3 such incidents of capture-related deaths have occurred since the program began, however just one wolf represents more than one percent of the total population in the wild, so the incident is both demoralizing for Mexican gray wolf supporters, and damaging to the already challenged reintroduction program.

The Mexican gray wolf program began in 1998 with wolves being released in to Arizona and New Mexico. Unlike the Yellowstone reintroduction of gray wolves, which was very successful, the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction has been plagued with issues, and 15 years in to the program, only 70 or so wolves are currently in the wild.

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