Two of the three packs of wild Mexican gray wolves roaming New Mexico are at risk as livestock owners fail to clean up dead cattle near their ranges. Altogether, 16 cattle are known to have died this year in the two packs' home ranges. Already, one carcass has been picked clean by a wolf within range of the Dark Canyon Pack. In past years, wolves that scavenged cattle carcasses in that area soon began preying on nearby livestock, prompting the government to trap and shoot them. The Middle Fork Pack is also at risk, with multiple dead cows within a few miles of their den site.
The Apache National Forest in Arizona proposes to require ranchers to clean up such carcasses or render them inedible (though the proposal hasn't been finalized yet), but the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and the Fish and Wildlife Service seem content to wait now and scapegoat the wolves when a conflict ensues later.
Mexican gray wolves were exterminated from the wild by U.S. government poisoning and trapping. At the end of last year, ten years after reintroduction, there were only 52 wolves and two breeding pairs in the wild. This year, there could be as many as eight breeding pairs — but not if the wolves are lured into preying on cattle, then trapped or shot.
Speak up now for the wolves: Use the form below to send a letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Gila National Forest urging them to clean up the carcasses immediately and ensure that scavenging wolves are held blameless for subsequent depredations.