Target: Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region
Goal: Revoke a recent order set to kill the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack in New Mexico.
The Mexican gray wolf was added to the endangered species list in 1976. Five years later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan in order to hopefully, one day, remove the species from the list and re-create a thriving wolf population in the Southwest region of the United States. But due to a few isolated cattle attacks over the past several months in New Mexico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently ordered the lethal removal of an alpha female, a new mother and leader of the Fox Mountain Pack.
There are fewer than 60 Mexican wolves roaming Arizona and New Mexico combined, so the killing of even one wolf has a large impact on the survival of the Mexican gray wolf species. Instead of killing the mother wolf, USFWS should work with the ranchers and landowners of the Southwest region to develop more effective preventative measures to protect their cattle in advance.
Mexican gray wolves were nearly eliminated in the United States in the mid-1990s by many of the same causes that are slowly hurting their species once again. In response, the wolf recovery plan was put into place to revive a species that is so vital to their natural ecosystem. These wolves prey on large hoofed animals such as deer and elk, as well as on smaller animals like rabbits and mice. The removal of any amount of Mexican gray wolves from the food chain can lead to an overpopulation of deer and elk, prompting overgrazing. This affects the rest of the food chain below them and can cause a serious disruption in an ecosystem. The social and economic issues arise when a wolf strays from its usual prey and attacks livestock, creating a problem for the owner of the livestock.
The recent order to kill the alpha female mother of the Fox Mountain Pack was validated after a rancher reported four heads of cattle dead. The USFWS suspects that the killings were linked to the Fox Mountain Pack of wolves. The rancher was compensated for his cattle and order was restored to his ranch. Mexican gray wolves only account for a minuscule percentage of total cattle deaths per year. Holding one single wolf accountable for this very small number of wolf-related deaths is unreasonable. Instead of killing the animal that took a temporary toll on a rancher’s livestock, the USFWS should work with landowners to take preventative measures. Fences with plastic strips attached have been found to be very effective in making enough noise as plastic hits the fence due to wind. It also provides a barrier between wildlife and cattle. Llamas, donkeys and herding dogs have been shown to be very capable of scaring off wolves as well.
The alpha female just gave birth to pups in the spring and her young will most likely suffer without their mother. Newborn wolves are cared for until they are 10 months old. Removing the mother will hurt the odds of survival for the pups. Research also proves that other pack members feel the loss of a member when it dies, as the pack forms lifetime bonds. It’s cruel to remove this alpha since it not only will affect her pack, but as a viable breeding female, her lethal removal will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the progress of Mexican gray wolf reintroduction into the Southwest region.
Wildlife officials estimated in 1998 that approximately 100 wolves would have re-established themselves in the wild by 2008. The population of gray wolves is only half of that now due to illegal shootings and poaching. Wolves are portrayed as the enemy, a scary constant killer of valuable livestock. In reality, wolves aren’t unlike any other animal; their main goal is survival and feeding their pack. Lethally removing this alpha female will not bring back the cattle its pack was suspected of killing and will only hurt the revival of the Mexican gray wolf species. Please sign this petition and lend a voice to this wolf species that is in real danger.
Dear Dr. Benjamin Tuggle,
On August 9th, 2012, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service ordered the lethal removal of the alpha female from the Fox Mountain Pack of the endangered species known as the Mexican gray wolf. I ask you to please reconsider this order, retract it, and put the funding from our tax dollars into more sustainable preventative measures for future cattle deaths resulting from wolves.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has been attempting since the late 1970’s to re-establish the Mexican gray wolf species back into its natural habitat in the Southwest region of the United States. Today, about 58 wolves roam this area which is not nearly enough to take the species off the endangered list. Killing a valuable, breeding alpha female of this species would be a mistake. Her lethal removal will inhibit, to an unknown extent, the revival of the Mexican wolf in New Mexico.
The rancher who lost four cattle from his livestock due to wolf attacks over the past several months was reimbursed and compensated for his monetary loss. It’s important to point out that millions of cattle die each year throughout the country, and only a very small percentage of those account for depredation by wolves. The only reason now to kill this alpha female is to prevent future attacks. This can easily be done through more sustainable methods such as using flagged fences, llamas and donkeys. Therefore, there is no reason at all to take this mother away from her pups or pack.
I urge you to re-evaluate just how great an impact her lethal removal will have on this endangered species and hopefully you and the rest of the USFWS can help to create a greater public understanding that wolves are not the enemy. They are simply trying to survive.
[Your Name Here]