Four endangered Mexican gray wolves were found dead last December in Arizona and New Mexico. It’s the first time in three months that wildlife officials have reported deaths in the population that makes up the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
An adult female wolf and a juvenile were found dead in Arizona, and two other adult wolves were found dead in New Mexico. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the incidents are under investigation, and didn’t identify the causes of death.
Illegal killing of Mexican gray wolves has created challenges for federal and state wildlife managers since reintroduction of the species in the late 1990s.
Last year, Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined about 110 Mexican gray wolves roamed eastern Arizona and New Mexico. The yearly aerial count of the animals is again underway.
Fish and Wildlife is currently writing a recovery plan for the wolves. A previous draft included a larger population and the expansion of the animal’s territory into areas near the Grand Canyon. But Gov. Doug Ducey, along with the governors or Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, recently sent letters to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel opposing any increase in the Mexican gray wolf’s range.