Arizona wildlife officials have captured and relocated an endangered Mexican gray wolf near Flagstaff. It spent months in the area but biologists and others had become concerned about its proximity to homes and busy highways. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reported.
The 1-year-old wild-born wolf made the journey of hundreds of miles from western New Mexico late last winter and roamed the Bellemont, Williams and Flagstaff area. After an unsuccessful attempt to relocate him in June, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist darted the wolf on the Coconino National Forest near the San Francisco Peaks west of Flagstaff on Fri, Aug. 13. He was taken back to the species’ management area in eastern Arizona where officials hope he’ll find a mate and have pups.
Jim deVos, the agency’s Mexican wolf coordinator, says he had been seen numerous times in the forest and near housing developments and officials became worried about his safety.
"The risk of either unknowing or unlawful, purposeful shooting of the wolf. Being hit by cars along both I-40 and 180. It had crossed 180 several times," says deVos.
Wolf advocates, however, wanted the wolf, dubbed Anubis by school children, to remain in the area as they continue to call for the expansion of the species’ range in the Southwest.
"I only want the best for every wild, endangered Mexican gray wolf, but that includes the agencies recognizing that wolves belong in northern Arizona and changing the policies so they are allowed to stay here. I have no doubt that it won't be long before another wolf disperses to our area!" says Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project Executive Director Emily Renn.
She says there were no reported problems with Anubis and wolves play an important ecological role.