The US Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that another endangered Mexican gray wolf has been found shot and killed in Arizona.
There are only about 42 wild Mexican gray wolves left in the Southwest. Over the last 11 years, 31 of them have been killed by poachers.
“With so few Mexican gray wolves remaining in the wild, every single wolf is crucial to the survival of the species. These latest killings, along with the sobering statistic that illegal wolf killings are the leading cause of death for Mexican gray wolves, highlight the urgent need for greater law enforcement capacity at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” says Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife’s Southwest program director.
Defenders of Wildlife has added $10,000 to the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. The total reward amount now sits at $57,500.
The latest shooting took place near Big Lake, in Eastern Arizona. About two miles from there is where another wolf was found shot and killed on June 18. The two wolves were part of the same pack, which has seven new pups to raise. Without those adult wolves to supply the pack with food, the pups have a lesser chance for survival.
One possible explanation for the wolf deaths is the use of radio tracking devices to hunt them down. Some livestock producers have been given radio receivers, which register signals from radio collars on the wolves, pinpointing their location. It has been speculated that a rancher with a radio receiver, or more than one, has used the technology to locate wolves.
The radio receivers were loaned to the ranchers by government officials. Environmental groups wrote a letter to Secretary Salazaar saying they believe the devices should be taken back: “Given the high rate of illegal shooting of Mexican wolves, as well as the large number of wolves disappearing under suspicious circumstances, wolf-frequency-programmed receivers should only be in the hands of government employees responsible for protecting and recovering the wolves, and in the hands of scientists studying them.”
A spokesperson for the cattle association said the notion that a rancher or ranchers are abusing the technology’s capacity is ridiculous.
Killing the endangered wolves is illegal and subject to fines of up to $50,000 and one year in jail.
Anyone with information can call Operation Game Thief – a 24/7, toll-free, anti-poaching hotline for the public: 1-800-352-0700.
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Image Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service