Newly Released Mexican Wolf Found Dead: Defenders Extends Wolf Reward Offer

(03/23/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife today announced that if warranted, it will extend its wolf reward to cover the recent death of a wild Mexican gray wolf, noting that the cause of death has not yet been determined. The additional $10,000 reward would be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who illegally killed an endangered Mexican wolf. Defenders has already offered $10,000 per incident for previous Mexican wolf killings.

The most recent dead Mexican wolf turned up Sunday by a highway near Clifton, Arizona. The death marks yet another setback in the Mexican wolf reintroduction program, which started returning wolves to the wild last year. This ten-month-old female wolf is the sixth casualty in the nascent program, and another is missing and presumed dead.

"Any number of incidents could have caused the loss of this latest Mexican wolf," said Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen. "However, if she was killed illegally, Defenders will offer $10,000 for information about and conviction of the culprit or culprits."

The wolf was found approximately two miles from the acclimation pen where she and her three family members had been held since January. The four animals were released into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on March 15. Her other three family members and another pair released in December comprise the only remaining wild Mexican wolves. The body was sent to Oregon for lab tests, and results should be available in about three weeks.

"Losses are a part of any reintroduction effort, and we knew that heading into this," said Schlickeisen. "But we want to make it clear we will not let the illegal actions of a few ruin the program, if indeed that is the case in this instance. The Mexican wolves have been doing exactly what they're supposed to by successfully hunting, reproducing, and staying away from livestock. All they need is to be left alone and given a chance to survive in the wild."

The killing of a Mexican wolf is a violation of both federal and state laws and can carry a penalty of up to $100,000 and one year in prison, in addition to state criminal penalties.

Defenders of Wildlife maintains a $100,000 Wolf Compensation Trust to compensate ranchers, at fair market value, for verified losses due to wolves. The trust encompasses all areas involved in the Mexican wolf reintroduction program.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270