Target: Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region
Goal: Return Guardian the wolf to his pack to help maintain his struggling species.
In the summer of 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured Guardian, one of a tiny number of Mexican gray wolves still living in the wild. And Guardian isn’t just one wolf — as his name suggests, he’s the alpha male of a pack that includes young pups who rely on him and his mate for food. Capturing Guardian and placing him in captivity puts their survival, and the survival of the entire species, in jeopardy. The Fish and Wildlife Service must recognize the damage they’re doing and release Guardian immediately.
Mexican gray wolves were almost driven to extinction during the 20th century and, by the millennium, they were believed to have been wiped out in many regions of North America. Efforts to reintroduce the animal at the turn of the century have slowly begun to show progress, but the species remains critically endangered, with experts suggesting that fewer than 100 currently exist in the wild. Until recently, one of those was wolf M1396, named Guardian by Albuquerque schoolchildren as part of a competition to name the 17 pups born in 2014. Guardian lived in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, as part of the Luna pack, a group of wolves that included his mate and their pups.
Life is not easy for Mexican wolves, so when local ranchers started abandoning dead cattle on land near his hunting grounds rather than disposing of them responsibly, Guardian soon learned to scavenge from their carcasses. From this, he also learned to hunt cattle: a reliable source of meat to feed his hungry pups. Under pressure from ranchers keen to maintain their profits, the Fish and Wildlife Service moved to stop this predation by capturing Guardian and keeping him in captivity, just as they had with his brother, Century, in the past. This not only deprives his pups of his protection and care, but may drive his mate to begin hunting cattle too, in a desperate bid to feed her young. With no indication of Guardian’s condition or current whereabouts, it’s vital we maintain pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse their decision and release Guardian back in to the wild. Please sign below to demand that Guardian is immediately released to his pack.
Dear Dr Tuggle,
In 2016, you captured wolf M1396 in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico, and took him into captivity in response to him preying on cattle. In so doing, you removed him from the Luna pack, depriving his pups of a key source of food and placing intense pressure on his mate to support her growing young. This pressure could mean she is forced to hunt cattle herself in order to sustain them, or may even result in the pups receiving insufficient nutrition and dying of starvation.
I appreciate that you are under pressure from local ranchers to control the wolf population in a manner that does not interfere with their ongoing profits. However, removing Guardian from his family places the whole pack in serious jeopardy, and with fewer than 100 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the wild, the loss of a single pack could be catastrophic for the entire species. Accordingly, I call upon you to reverse your decision and release Guardian back into the wild to help maintain the survival of his species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jean Beaufort