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Fish And Wildlife Service Kills Four Mexican Gray Wolves For Preying On Cattle

National Commission of Protected Natural Areas

Federal wildlife officials last month killed four endangered Mexican gray wolves they say were responsible for repeatedly killing cattle. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

According to memos from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the four wolves and their two packs were responsible for the deaths of nearly 30 head of cattle in western New Mexico. The agency says ranchers took steps to reduce the incidents, but the animals continued to prey on livestock over the last several months. None of the wolves had harmed or threatened humans.

In a statement, a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson says lethal removal is a last resort and managers had exhausted all other options for preventing the cattle depredations. A federal program reimburses ranchers for livestock killed my Mexican gray wolves.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Wolf Conservation Center among other groups, however, say Fish and Wildlife’s actions were unnecessary and put the livestock industry’s interests above wolf recovery. They say it was the largest number of Mexican wolves killed by federal officials since 2006.

The annual count of Mexican gray wolves earlier this year showed an increase in the population to at least 163.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer 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 Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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