Arizona counties want more funds for Mexican wolf recovery efforts
Eight cative-born pups cross-fostered into Arizona and New Mexico wolf packs
BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) — The Cochise County Board of Supervisors is requesting more federal funding for Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
They’re sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, asking him to consider a fairer compensation plan for the eastern Arizona communities hosting the recovery program and the state agencies managing it.
Federal authorities began efforts to conserve Mexican wolves in the southwestern United States in 1977 and released the first wolves into the wild in 1998.
The executive director of the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization — Pascal Berlioux — says the annual $200,000 funding for compensation to ranchers in both Arizona and New Mexico is around 10 percent of actual costs.
It’s estimated the program has cost $38 million as of last year with the current Mexican wolf population thought to be 114.
Early cross-fostering success
Eight Mexican gray wolf pups are being raised by surrogate parents in the wild as federal biologists look to improve the genetic diversity of the wild population in Arizona and New Mexico.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says four pups were placed into wild dens in late April — two in Arizona and two in New Mexico. Four more pups were placed with a New Mexico pack in May.
The agency says the cross-fostering technique is a way of getting captive-born pups into the litters of experienced wild female wolves.
The agency’s Southwest regional director, Amy Lueders, says biologists are adaptively managing the wolves to produce a population that is genetically robust and has desirable wild behavior.
Efforts to reintroduce the endangered wolves have been ongoing for two decades.
Two Arizona wolves found dead
Arizona wildlife managers say two endangered Mexican gray wolves died, bringing the statewide total of dead this year to six.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said in a news release that the animals were found dead in May. Authorities did not release any details about the circumstances or where the wolves were found. Their deaths are under investigation.