Friday, May 19, 2017

Ranchers question wolf count in Chiricahua area

Some local ranchers believe that while a recent press release on the Mexican wolf may be technically correct, it may not be the whole story. In an April 6 combined statement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Arizona Game and Fish announced that a female Mexican wolf from an “ongoing reintroduction effort in Mexico” was captured March 26 on private ranch land in southeastern Arizona, then transported to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico. Prior to the wolf’s capture, “some area ranchers reported possible livestock depredations in the area,” it said. “USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services investigated eight livestock carcasses between March 22 and 27 to determine the cause of deaths,” the statement said. Results confirmed that “one was killed by a wolf, four died of natural causes, two died of unknown causes, and one was unable to be investigated because of its deteriorated condition.” Local rancher Vernon Cox described himself as “unfortunate enough” to have had the confirmed kill. While Cox had “13 dead ones all told,” the inspectors only looked at eight, he said. “The rest I found after they left. I didn’t call them back after that,” Cox said, explaining that the cattle found later had probably been dead for a week. Area ranchers can understand losing some cattle every year, but not the 13 Cox lost within two month’s time, which they say seems like a lot for only one wolf to do. Asked if coyotes could have killed the cattle, Cox said coyotes are more likely “to kill chickens than cattle.” “Coyotes may eat one (a cow) already down, but they would not chase down a big cow,” he said. “Even a calf, up and able, will fight a coyote.” Cox went on to say that wolf kills look different from other kills. Not familiar with the Mexican wolf, Cox had contacted friends from Clifton, as well as Silver City and Reserve, N.M., who told him what to look for. Wolves have been known to eat their prey alive. “A wolf will chew on the hind legs near the knee joints so they can’t run away, then rip open the flank and spill the guts,” he explained...more

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