Monday, December 19, 2011

Shooting Death of Female Mexican Wolf Upsets Environmentalists

Close-up of Mexican wolf

A recent shooting of a female Mexican wolf in southwestern New Mexico has troubled environmentalists. She was released into the wild earlier this year with hopes of mating with a male wolf. Unfortunately, her death has marked the latest blow in the government's effort to bring these magnificent wolves back to their former haunts in the American Southwest. The incident had occurred on a private land near a mountain community of Beaverhead. Officials with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that the female was seen hanging around a ranch at the northeastern edge of Gila National Forest. She was reported to have lost fear of humans, and had even been socializing with the local domestic dogs. Tom Buckley, the agency's spokesman, stated that numerous attempts were made to tranquilize the wolf to return her to captivity, but the wildlife managers could not get close enough. There were even concerns for public safety, which led to the wolf being killed. Some environmentalists like Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity blamed this female's death for the lack of releases over the years. He stated that had more wolves were released, then the female might not have resorted to any dogs.
A typical wolf-dog hybrid

I'm also deeply troubled and saddened by this loss, and even I firmly agree with Mr. Robinson. There are a total of 300 Mexican wolves living in captive breeding centers around the U.S and in Mexico. Meanwhile, there are just fifty wolves living in the wilds of the American Southwest. This is a critical situation, and releases must be made as soon as possible. This female that was shot dead near a ranch was seen to have socialized with the local dogs. But what is truly shocking is that she had once mated with a dog last spring, and had a litter of hybrid pups. In my opinion, this is another threat that is affecting the Mexican wolves. Mating with domestic dogs, resulting in hybrids that could one day outnumber the pure genetic wolf population in the region. This could also result in spreading of diseases like canine distemper, which would affect other wolves that have been released into the wild. This is why I believe that anyone living in an area frequented by wolves should keep their dogs safe such that they do not come into contact with their wild ancestors. In addition to that, illegal shootings, courtroom battles, management hurdles and feuding among environmentalists, ranchers and politicians have slowed down the population from increasing. The American Southwest must do something about the current wolf population in the region. Just feuding in courts will only make matters worse. There are 300 of these animals in captivity, which in my opinion is more than enough to reintroduce them back into the wild. These animals are a keystone species, and they help maintain the ecological balance of the desert ecosystem. Action must be taken, as these wolves would one day disappear from earth as a result of carelessness combined with illegal shooting.

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