Wildlife managers are investigating the death of an endangered Mexican grey wolf in the White Mountains. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the announcement comes soon after unsuccessful moves in the state to halt the reintroduction of the animals in the Southwest.
The male Mexican gray wolf was discovered in late March on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. It was part of one of two packs that frequents the area in eastern Arizona. The cause of the wolf’s death is under investigation and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would not comment.
Since 1998, the federal government has operated a program to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf to the Southwest. Earlier this year, 83 gray wolves were estimated to be roaming the 4.4-million-acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico.
This is the second death of a gray wolf in the Southwest this year. The first was found in New Mexico and the incident is also under investigation. Sandy Bahr is the director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter and an advocate for the reintroduction project.
“When you have the numbers so low, every wolf is looked at in a very critical manner … we’re still far from recovery and we need to do everything we can to protect them and to promote their success.” Bahr said.
Last month, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed multiple bills passed by the State Legislature aimed at limiting the reintroduction project.
According to Bahr, a recent poll shows nearly 80 percent of Arizonans in support of Mexican gray wolf reintroduction in the Southwest.