Saturday, November 10, 2007


PO BOX 507
Ed Wehrheim, Chairman

Contact: Ed Wehrheim, Catron County Chairman
Phone 505.533.6423

Catron County Presses FWS on Habituated Wolves

RESERVE, N.M. A recent inquest determined that Kenton Carnegie had been killed by wolves two years ago in Ontario, Canada. On October 11 of this year, the Catron County Commission sent a letter to Dr. Benjamin Tuggle of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notifying him of the County’s findings of imminent danger and a demand for permanent removal of a male Mexican wolf from the Durango pack. The wolf had, at that time, been documented as frequenting two homes, one twenty-one times and another seven times over the course of a few months.

In its letter to Dr. Tuggle, the County cited the “10J Rule”, a part of the Endangered Species Act which applies to the experimental, non-essential Mexican wolf population. This rule provides guidance for management of the Mexican wolf program and definitions of what constitutes a problem wolf. The County pointed out that the wolf in question met four of the five possible identifiers (only one is required for a wolf to be so identified). According to the 10J Rule, a problem wolf can be removed from the wild by the wolf program before it performs some action which may require, by the same Rule, that the wolf be destroyed.

However, in his October 27 letter of reply, Dr. Tuggle chose to disagree with the County’s findings, stating that the wolf’s actions did not constitute problem behavior, and further stated that the behaviors exhibited by the wolf would be best dealt with via “aversive conditioning methods”, stating that the measures had been proven to be successful.

During the ten days that these methods were employed by authorities, the wolf returned to one of the homes five times.

“Dr. Tuggle seems to think the wolf’s being documented at homes 28 times is normal wolf behavior,” said Catron County’s Wolf Interaction Investigator, Jess Carey. “He thinks it is acceptable for a family to have to live with people on their property on a daily basis, hazing the wolves away to protect the family.”

According to a recent report by Dr. Valerius Geist, a Canadian biologist, becoming used to and not afraid of humans is one of the final steps before a wolf starts seeing humans as prey. Dr. Geist consulted wolf experts from around the world and identified seven stages of wolf habituation leading to attacks on humans.

“It appears that Dr. Tuggle is content that wolves in Catron County are displaying the exact behavior displayed by wolves that killed and ate Kenton Carnegie,” said Ed Wehrheim, Chairman of the Catron County Commission. “We have a serious problem of escalating habituated behavior here. We told Dr. Tuggle very clearly of the evidence we have that the wolf is habituated and therefore a problem wolf. We invited him to come down here and examine our evidence. Our documentation includes three videos that were taken of wolves in people’s yards, taken from their living room window. A habituated wolf is a dangerous wolf and we need to get these habituated wolves out of the our county so they are no longer threatening our people.”

In a reply letter to Dr. Tuggle from the County, Wehrheim stated “the County has taken no action in order to give you time to do your job. However, we can wait no longer.” Commissioner Wehrheim stated that the County will take measures to protect its citizens, acting under the Catron County Wolf Protection Ordinance. “It is the moral and legal responsibility of the Catron County Commission, first and foremost, to protect the safety, health and welfare of the residents of Catron County,” the letter concludes.

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On Monday night November 5th at 10:00 PM our deer hunting camp on the West Fork of the Gila River, was terrorized by a pack of wolves estimated to be 4 to 6 in number. They came right into our camp howling right between our hunters tent and the cook tent and then just on the other side of the guide's tent. We had our horses and mules high lined at the camp and when we started hearing the wolves growl right next to the horses, we got up and tried to run them out. We walked down to the end of the highlines, with several thousands of dollars worth of horse and mule fllesh tied up and it probably looked like a smorgage board or shish kabob to the wolves, and it became quiet for a little while. We went back to the tent, and then the\ wolves moved back in and started howling again. My son Brian went back down to protect the animals by getting between them and the wolves, and then the wolves really set up a racket of a combination of howling, yap barking, growling and snapping their teeth. They were really intimidated by him being there. It sounded like 4 to 6 wolves and my son held his ground in the pitch black of night and had to stay there for probably 30 minutes before he was satisfied they had maybe left. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep the rest of the night. Brian said it litterally scared the hell out of him!

Our three hunters from the San Antonio, TX area were really scared, so much so they stayed real quiet through the whole ordeal in fear that the wolves might hear them and come to their tent, which is where the first howls came from. They literally can not believe what the Government is doing to the people here by putting the wolves back. The old timers got rid of them for good reason.

Over the last several years we have had wolves howling out side of our camp but never had them come right through camp and absolutely have no fear of humans or human scent. They acted very aggressive and especially so when my son confronted them the last time. They really became excited. These wolves are absolutely a danger to humans and livestock as they seemed to not even care about human scent like most wild animals.

We think Nick Smith used to camp where we were camped, when he was packing elk meat and dog food in a few years ago to feed the wolves. We had heard the wolfer airplane circling in the TurkeyFeather Mountain area earlier that day and the tracks confirmed they had come up out of Cooper Canyon and Iron Creek on the trail and over Turkey Feather Pass and down to the West Fork of the Gila and returned out the same way. There were wolf tracks on the trail for about 5 miles.

When we came out yesterday on Thursday November 8th, we met a group of male back packers who were camped on the confluence of Cooper Canyon and Iron Creek and they related a story to my hunters who were on the back of our packstring, and I didn't get to talk to, as I had passed by them, or I would have gotten a name and info from them. They said that on Wednesday evening that they were above camp gathering firewood when they noticed movement and the saw the wolves and evidently the wolves made a move toward them and they ran back to camp and one of them climbed up in a tree and waited until the wolves left. They were terrified!

I haven't looked at the flight report to see what wolf pack it might be, but I'm here to tell you, these wolves are aggressive and not afraid of humans and can pose a real danger to recreationists and hunters or who ever might be out there, and I think it behooves the NM Game & Fish Dept. and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to put out warnings to Gila Wilderness recreationists to be very alert, and probably packing some heat wouldn't hurt either.

Tom Klumker
San Francisco River Outfitters
Glenwood, NM

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