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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Officials Kill Troubled Mexican Gray Wolf

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An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been shot and killed by wildlife officials in western New Mexico. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the federally protected animal had been involved in so-called “nuisance behavior.” 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf had repeatedly been seen in the last week in a residential area. Though it hadn’t acted aggressively toward humans, it wasn’t showing fear toward them either. A field team made several unsuccessful attempts to tranquilize, trap and relocate the animal.

Maggie Dwire is the assistant Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for Fish and Wildlife.

“The bottom line is the Fish and Wildlife Service has no tolerance for wolves being in close proximity to people as this wolf was displaying. And lethal control of the animal is not our preferred option, but it was justifiable in this case,” Dwire says.

This is only the second time since the Mexican grays wolf reintroduction program started in 1998 that managers have killed one for nuisance behavior. Dwire says in this instance it was a matter of public safety.

“Our goal started from trying to deter the behavior, but very quickly we realized that we needed to remove the animal in the most expeditious manner possible,” Dwire says.

The wolf was born and raised in captivity and released into the wild in April of this year. About 110 of the endangered animals make up the experimental population in eastern Arizona and New Mexico.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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