Last month, an endangered Mexican gray wolf was found dead in eastern Arizona. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the animal was part of the Blue Range Recovery Area that spans more than 4 million acres in the Southwest.
The male wolf was part of the Elk Horn Pack, whose range includes the northeastern portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The Arizona Game and Fish Department gave no specific information about the animal’s cause of death and said the incident is under investigation.
However, wolf reintroduction in the Southwest has caused deep division in the state, and the animals have often been killed illegally. Conservations say wolves are a key part of the ecosystem. Many ranchers claim they are a threat to livestock and humans.
Last June, a young female wolf was found dead in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. Its cause of death is still unknown.
In 1998, Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced in Arizona and New Mexico. As of last January, 83 were found to roam the recovery area. In this state, there are currently seven gray wolf packs that’ve produced 14 pups this year.