March 26, 1998
Three wolves (1 adult male, 1 adult female, and 1 female pup) were transferred to the acclimation pen at the Campbell Blue site on January 26.
Two wolves (1 adult male, 1 adult female) were transferred to the acclimation pen at the Turkey Creek site on January 28.
Six wolves (1 adult male, 1 adult female, 2 yearling females, and 2 male pups) were transferred to the acclimation pen at the Hawk's Nest site on February 4.
The wolves are being fed carcasses of road-killed elk, deer, antelope and javelina collected by Arizona Game & Fish Department (AGFD) and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Project personnel are camped near the acclimation pens and will remain there until the wolves are released in late March or early April. Human interaction with wolves is minimized to avoid habituation.
April 1, 1998
As of Tuesday, March 31, all wolves from all three family groups had left their acclimation pens. Gates to the pens were opened on Sunday, March 29. The wolves all have radio collars and are being tracked by radio telemetry by ground crews and an aircraft owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. As of Tuesday they had wandered up to a mile and a half from their pens:
Hawk's Nest group [6 wolves] - the wolves were together about a mile and a half north of their pen.
Campbell Blue group [3 wolves] - all wolves were together about 3/4 mile northeast of their release pen.
Turkey Creek group [2 wolves] - both wolves are out of their pen, the male about a mile southeast of the pen and the female about a half mile east. This separation of individual wolves is normal, as they are exploring their new surroundings. They can locate each other by scent and by howling.
April 2, 1998
The Hawk's Nest group was located today about a mile and a half north of their release pen, in the same area as yesterday. The Campbell Blue wolves were located about 2 miles south of their pen, in an open meadow that has large numbers of elk nearby. The Turkey Creek pair is back together near their pen.
"The Hawk's Nest group appears to have localized in one area for about 48 hours and the Campbell Blue wolves for 24 hours," said Wendy Brown, a wolf biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This suggests they've explored their surroundings and found areas they're currently content with. Behaviorally, this is very encouraging."
Brown added that the Turkey Creek pair has eaten a road-killed deer that was left out for them near their pen. "Because all of the wolves have left their pens and are continuing to explore their surroundings, we closed the gates to the Hawk's Nest and Turkey Creek pens yesterday and will close the gate to the Campbell Blue pen today. The wolves are showing they no longer need the security of their acclimation pens."
April 6, 1998
Additional radio telemetry data recorded from the ground over the weekend indicates that wolf family groups are staying together and are not wandering too far from their release pens. "This behavior is good news," said wolf recovery leader David Parsons. "It's precisely what we had hoped to accomplish by holding the wolves in acclimation pens prior to their release."
On Saturday, the Hawk's Nest pack was still in the vicinity of its pen, where wolf biologists had left two elk carcasses last week. On Sunday the wolves were moving north and west of their pen. The Turkey Creek pair was located a mile south of their pen on Sunday and closer to the pen on Monday morning. The Campbell Blue pack was located a mile south of their release pen on Saturday. "The Campbell Blue wolves are moving around more than the other packs, and apear to be centering their activity on an area about a mile south of the release site," said Parsons. The area is characterized by gently rolling terrain with relatively open stands of ponderosa pine and small meadows. Many elk have been observed in the area.
April 14, 1998
Radio telemetry recorded from the air indicates the presence of all wolves within a two to three mile radius of their respective release areas. The Campbell Blue pack seems to be especially interested in exploring the countryside.
A member of the field team observed the Hawk's Nest pack pursuing an adult elk. To date, no confirming evidence of this kill or others has been found. Supplemental road-killed deer and elk are still being placed throughout each family group's area of movement.
April 22, 1998
On April 21, the first confirmation of successful predation by the released wolves on a large ungulate (an adult female elk) was obtained. This important observation was first made and reported by a local resident. The Interagency Field Team later confirmed the kill and determined that at least three members of the Hawk's Nest Pack (including one of the yearling females, and the two male pups), remained nearby on April 21. Based on information provided by the individual who first observed the kill, it is likely that these are the wolves that actually made the kill. Five of the six Hawk's Nest wolves were determined to be on the kill during an aerial telemetry flight on April 22. The field team considers this the most important information obtained to date regarding the ability of these captive-reared wolves to survive in the wild.
During the week of April 13, the Turkey Creek wolves were reported to be near a mountain lion hunter's camp on the National Forest, and were exhibiting territorial behavior towards the hunting dogs staked at the camp. To avoid a potential aggressive interaction between the wolves and the dogs, the hunter moved his camp several miles away.
The Campbell Blue Pack continues to be the most adventurous in exploring the territory, often moving several miles in one day. However, their movements are focused within the general area of their release, as are those of the other two packs. All packs have remained intact, although individuals are occasionally separated for several hours or more.
April 29, 1998
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have confirmed that one of the recently reintroduced Mexican gray wolves was shot and killed mid-morning, Tuesday, April 28, 1998, by a camper.
The four-year-old male wolf, number 156, was one of 11 Mexican gray wolves released from acclimation pens on March 29, 1998, into the Blue Range Recovery Area in the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona. This wolf was released from the Turkey Creek acclimation pen site and had been exploring and establishing a territory within a mile to a mile-and-a half of the release site.
May 5, 1998
Wolf number 128, the female mate of wolf number 156 who was shot and killed mid-morning on Tuesday, April 28, was humanely trapped at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 1, near the original acclimation pen at Turkey Creek in the Apache National Forest of eastern Arizona. She spent the night in the acclimation pen. On Saturday evening, May 2, 1998, she was transported back to the pen she and her mate had occupied at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, from November 1996 through January 1998. We confirmed that she is pregnant and expected to give birth soon.
May 6, 1998
On the evening of May 5, 1998, two pregnant Mexican wolves (#191 and #128) had pups at the captive breeding facility at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. Wolf #128 is the individual who was recently captured from the wild and returned to Sevilleta after her mate was killed.
May 11, 1998
Five wolves in the Hawk's Nest pack were located near their release pen over the weekend. Female yearling #494 (a 2-year-old) has not associated with her packmates for several weeks and was located east of Alpine over the weekend; while this is normal behavior for a young wolf, its movements are being closely monitored by the interagency wolf management team. Road-killed animals are still being delivered to the Hawk's Nest area, until elk begin calving in the next week or two, even though biologists verified an elk kill from this pack in late April.
The Campbell Blue wolves are still exploring an area north of their release pen but well south of Alpine; they were seen feeding on an elk last week, but biologists believe the elk died of natural causes. The wolves are thought to be finding their own food because they haven't fed on carcasses left by the field team for the last few weeks. Female yearling #511 moved several miles north of the Campbell Blue adults over the past week. As with wolf #494 its movements are being closely monitored.
Also, at this point the interagency wolf management team has no confirmation of denning or reproduction in either pack.
May 15, 1998
The interagency wolf team suspects that the Hawk's Nest and Campbell Blue adult females have given birth to pups, based on the following information: their movements have been limited to small areas; Mexican wolves give birth between mid-April and mid-May; and these same pairs produced pups in captivity prior to their release. Actual reproduction cannot be confirmed until the pups emerge from the dens in 6-8 weeks. Two young females (one from each pack) have dispersed from their natal packs. One (#494) spent the past several days in and near Alpine, Arizona, about 10 miles from its release site; and the other (#511) moved to an area northwest of Showlow, Arizona, a straight-line distance of about 70 miles. Both have approached livestock and human residences. Attempts to capture these dispersing animals are under way. They will be returned to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico and may be paired with mates for future releases. This type of dispersal is natural and expected.
May 19, 1998
A one-year-old Mexican wolf that dispersed from an adult pair of wolves on May 7 was captured by biologists with the interagency wolf management team yesterday and transported to a captive management facility at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. The yearling female, known as wolf number 511, split off from the ‘Campbell Blue' pack, wandering north and west of Springerville, Arizona, in areas well outside the designated wolf recovery area in the Apache National Forest.
The wolf was captured unharmed west of Show Low, Arizona, using a net gun fired from a helicopter yesterday. It was then driven to the New Mexico facility where it will remain in captivity for the remainder of this year, but will become a candidate for release into the wild in future years. The wolf is in excellent health and is "acting much wilder than before her release into the wild," said Sevilleta wolf caretaker Colleen Buchanan.
A second wolf that dispersed from its family this month -- number 494, a two-year-old female that left the Hawk's Nest pack -- has been sighted on several occasions in and near Alpine. Efforts to capture it continue.
The interagency wolf management team [Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA - Wildlife Services] decided to capture the two wolves last week when it was apparent they had permanently dispersed from their packs. While dispersal behavior is normal for young wolves, the two individuals that left their packs this month will be unable to find mates in the wild and are not equipped to survive in the long-term as individuals.
May 22, 1998
A blue heeler cattle dog owned by Dr. Sam Luce of Alpine was killed on his ranch on May 16, probably by the adult male wolf in the Campbell Blue pack. Alan Armistead of USDA Wildlife Services reported that the dog was likely killed by a wolf [or wolf-dog hybrid] because wolf-like tracks were found on Luce's property and the dog's wounds were consistent with a canine attack.
A miniature horse colt owned by Edwin Marsh of Heber was wounded on May 16 probably in an encounter with wolf #511, the dispersing female that was captured by the wolf team on May 18. She was captured within a half mile of the attack site and returned to a captive management facility at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. The miniature colt, which stands about 21 inches at the shoulder, suffered puncture wounds on its neck and lacerations on its legs that were consistent with a canine attack. The attack was broken off, however, probably due to defensive attacks from a mare in the pen, according to Armistead. The colt is expected to recover.
Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation group involved with several wolf reintroduction projects, will compensate Dr. Luce for his loss and is exploring ways to assist with the training of a new stock-dog. It is also paying for veterinary treatment for the miniature horse.
Biologists continue to monitor the movements of dispersing female wolf #494, which has been sighted in or near Alpine on several occasions. She left the area for several days this week, journeying to the Escudilla Mountain area, but has since returned to the vicinity of Alpine.
Den closures have been posted around the Campbell Blue and Hawks Nest packs -- a one-mile radius around each site. The Campbell Blue wolves remain localized and are almost certainly denning, according to Wendy Brown, a wolf biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
May 29, 1998
Two-year-old female wolf #494 was trapped uninjured near Alpine yesterday morning about 7:00 am. This female dispersed from her natal group, the Hawks Nest pack, in April. She associated briefly with the Campbell Blue pack before the alpha female began denning. Since that time, she has been traveling alone, and spending much of her time near the town of Alpine. She was observed interacting with cattle and horses on at least two occasions, and has been frequently observed by local residents. No livestock depredation or interactions with pets or humans occurred, however, her continued presence in area of human settlement was undesirable. "The monitoring and capture of this wolf has been a great team effort", according to Diane Boyd-Heger, wolf biologist for Arizona Game and Fish, "it could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of local residents".
Female #494 was returned to the captive management facility at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon. She was placed in a large enclosure with female #511. Refuge personnel report that the two females are getting along, and have created quite a lot of excitement among the other wolves. "All four males at a nearby pen were standing on their hind legs against the fence this morning, trying to get a look" , reported Sheila Herbst, volunteer caretaker. These males could be potential mates for the recaptured females, which will remain candidates for future re-release.
Seven Mexican wolves remain in the wild. The Campbell Blue and Hawks nest packs remain intact within their respective territories and are doing well. Biologists observed the Hawks Nest pack pursuing an elk this week. Elk calving season is beginning, which should provide an abundant vulnerable prey source for the wolves, and put their adaptation to the wild on a fast track, said Wendy Brown, wolf biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
June 5, 1998
The Hawks Nest and Campbell Blue packs are moving within their established territories and doing well. The Campbell Blue pair continues to frequent the area with a suspected den, and were observed by project staff attacking an elk calf on Wednesday, June 3rd. The injured calf was defended by its mother, and the final outcome of that particular event is not known because biologists left to avoid disturbing the wolves. Elk calving is now in full swing. This will provide a plentiful food source and the opportunity for released wolves to hone their hunting skills.
Movements of the Hawks Nest wolves suggest that they do not have young pups, although an examination of the area by project staff found two areas that may have been used as dens. It is possible that pups may have been born and not survived. Closures placed in the area will be lifted if no evidence of pups is found this week.
Recaptured female wolves 511 and 494 remain together in their enclosure at Sevilleta, and female 128 is caring for her pups in a separate enclosure at the facility. Pups are beginning to move around and a determination of numbers should be possible soon.
June 12, 1998
The Campbell Blue pair continues to frequent their den area, but are spending more time hunting -- there are many elk calves in the area now. Biologists observed the alpha female (wolf #174) feeding on an elk calf on Monday, June 8.
A fire burned about 420 acres on the Apache National Forest this week, much of it within the Campbell Blue pack's territory. The fire is now under control.
The Hawks Nest Pack was observed chasing and "testing" cows with calves that recently moved on to an allotment within their territory on Friday, June 5. However, no depredations occurred and the wolves have moved away from the area. Female #493, a two-year-old, has been observed away from her pack and may be dispersing.
Female #128, the recaptured mate of the Turkey Creek male, continues to do well at the Sevilleta facility. She has one pup. Recaptured females from the Campbell Blue and Hawks Nest packs (#494 and 511) remain together at Sevilleta.
June 18, 1998
A two-year-old female from the Hawks Nest pack (wolf #493) now appears to be dispersing from its family. She was located about 3 miles northwest of Luna, NM, over the weekend but has since moved back into Arizona, on the west side of Escudilla Mountain.
The Campbell Blue pair remains in the vicinity of their presumed den site after moving about over the weekend. Biologists believe the increased movements represent hunting forays and remain hopeful the pair has pups.
The lone surviving pup of wolf #128 -- the mate of the wolf that was shot on April 28 -- died at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend. A necropsy is being performed on the pup, but early indications are that it may not be possible to determine the pup's cause of death.
The Hawks Nest pack remains within their established territory. Most of the cows and calves that were temporarily placed in an allotment within their territory have been rounded up and removed, as scheduled. The livestock owner accounted for all cows and calves in the roundup. Four cows and a calf remain in another pasture within the Hawks Nest territory. Their owner reported he lost some calves, but no evidence that wolves were involved has been found by the field team's depredation specialist.
June 26, 1998
The Campbell Blue pack continues to center its activity around the presumed den site. Recently, while the parents were some distance away, a brief inspection of the den site was made and no pups were observed. Close monitoring will continue until the existence of pups can be confirmed or denied.
Observers continue to note that the Campbell Blue female has an injury to her left hind leg. However, she continues to make forays with the male, and both were recently observed interacting aggressively with a pair of coyotes at a freshly killed elk calf.
The Hawk's Nest Pack continues to occupy the area within a five-mile radius of their release pen. The two yearling males (#531 and #532) have been located with each other but separate from their parents for more than a week.
The dispersing two-year-old female (wolf #493) from the Hawk's Nest Pack has localized her movements for the past several days to an area northwest of Escudilla Mountain. This area has good populations of both small and large prey.
July 2, 1998
Both the Campbell Blue and Hawk's Nest packs remain with their normal home ranges. Field biologists are now convinced that both alpha females had pups but lost them.
Supplemental food (deer and elk carcasses) is being provided to the Campbell Blue pack because of the apparent injury to the female's left hind leg. Biologists hope that the supplemental feeding will speed the healing of her leg injury.
The dispersing two-year-old female (wolf #493) from the Hawk's Nest Pack has moved to the Big Lake area on the western edge of the recovery area. She was observed trying to attack a calf that had been separated from its mother cow, but the rancher successfully scared the wolf away. The calf was not harmed and was reunited with it mother. This morning #493 was located on the south shore of Big Lake very near developed campgrounds. Project personnel will attempt to scare her away from this area.
Wolf #531 (a one-year-old male) has dispersed from the Hawk's Nest Pack and, for the past week, has been located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Monitoring of #531 is being coordinated with the Tribe's Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Department
July 10, 1998
Hawk's Nest Pack reunited! Female #493, who recently dispersed from her family group and has been frequenting campgrounds in the Big Lake area, was captured yesterday morning in a "soft-catch" foot-hold trap without injury. She was transported to the home range of her pack and released. Biologists monitoring the pack to determine the best location for her release were surprised to find male #531, who had recently dispersed to the White Mountain Apache Reservation, had also returned to the pack. The field team will closely monitor the movements and interactions of the five Hawks Nest wolves over the next several days.
July 13, 1998
The wolves and field biologists have been busy this weekend. The Hawks Nest Pack has been reunited after the capture of #493 and the return of #531 from his visit to the White Mountain Apache Reservation. All of the wolves have been observed together over the weekend, and four members of the pack, including #493 and #531, were observed together during this morning's flight.
Yesterday, the Campbell Blue pair was observed holding a cow elk at bay in a stock tank. The elk had been wounded by the wolves. Female #174 was still limping, however, she was moving well and fully participating in the hunt. Biologists will try to detemine today whether the wolves made a kill.
July 17, 1998
The Campbell Blue pair were observed by field personnel with a single pup on July 15. Apparently the pair must have moved their offspring before the den site was examined in late June. This pup represents the first Mexican wolf born in the wild in the United States for over 50 years. A closure has been placed on the area being used by the adult pair and their pup, known as a "rendezvous site", to protect the family from disturbance.
The Campbell Blue female, who sustained a leg injury while hunting elk in early June, is still favoring a hind leg, but appears to be doing much better. She was observed with her mate holding an adult cow elk at bay in a stock pond on July 12. Although this hunt was apparently not successful, project personnel confirmed an elk kill by the pair on July 16.
The Hawks Nest pack remain within their normal home range, and all five members are staying together, including the recently returned female #493 and male #531. Cattle have been moving into allotments within the wolves's home range, but no depredations have occurred.
August 4, 1998
The Campbell Blue wolves are exploring some new country with their pup. The Hawks Nest wolves were located within Campbell Blue territory last week and current movements may be related to interactions between the two packs, or the wolves may just be expanding their range.
The Campbell Blue pair killed another cow elk on August 1. This kill was made within a quarter mile of a corral full of cattle. A livestock manager observed all three wolves. He moved his cattle from the corral to their new grazing area according to plan and without incident. The wolves remained on their elk kill.
Examination of the elk kill made by the Hawks Nest wolves last week revealed the six-year old (prime age) animal was suffering from a broken femur, an injury sustained prior to the wolf attack.
The Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan captive management group met in Durango, Mexico during the week of July 20th. Breeding pairs of wolves and transfers between facilities were arranged for the coming year. Decisions were made regarding recaptured females from the released animals. Female wolf #494, recaptured from the Hawks Nest Pack, will go to Mexico to be paired as a breeding female in a remote facility. Female wolf #128, recaptured from Turkey Creek after her mate was killed, will be spayed and moved to an off-exhibit captive facility in New Orleans with a non-breeding companion group. Female wolf #511 will be paired with a male at Sevilleta and remain a candidate for re-release to the wild.
August 11, 1998
The Campbell Blue female, wolf #174, was found dead on Friday morning, August 7. Preliminary investigation indicates that she was killed in a confrontation with a mountain lion. A private citizen reported to the Mexican wolf field team that a wolf was lying near a forest road, and within minutes of the call the team received a mortality signal from #174's collar. The field team found her lying just 5 yards from an elk calf carcass that appeared to have been killed by a mountain lion. A mountain lion had been observed in the area on Thursday night. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement agents investigated the site, and the wolf's body has been shipped to the National Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for necropsy. The results should be available in about two weeks. The Service will treat this incident as an open case under investigation until all evidence has been reviewed.
Wolf #174 was the mother of #577, the first wild-born wolf pup in this population and the first in the United States in about 50 years. Wolf #174 overcame many obstacles to raise her pup to approximately 12 weeks of age. She made her own successful transition from captivity, learning to hunt elk and providing for herself and the pup with the help of only her mate. She was recovering well from an injury she sustained while hunting when she was still nursing her offspring in June. Her death is a definite loss to the program, but the pup is evidence of the fitness of #174 and her mate #166 in the recovery effort. The pup is old enough to be weaned, and has been following his parents to kills. The male and the pup were observed on Friday and appeared to be fine. They will be monitored closely by the field team to assess the ability of the male to hunt alone and care for the pup. There are examples in other wild populations of male wolves raising their offspring after the loss of a mate.
Fatal interactions between wolves and mountain lions have also been documented in other wolf populations. Wolves sometimes chase mountain lions off of their kills, and occasionally kill lions. At least two wolves in the northern Rockies have been killed by mountain lions.
August 15, 1998
The Campbell Blue alpha male # 166 has been observed caring for pup #577 since the death of female #174 on August 7. The male was observed carrying his left front leg after the death of the female, it is not known whether this injury is related to the same incident that caused her death. To temporarily assist #166 in caring for the pup, project personnel provided an elk hind quarter. Wolf tracks (pup and adult) were observed within 7 m of the elk quarter but no feeding occurred, suggesting that the wolves may have obtained food elsewhere and the leg injury is not seriously hindering the male's hunting efforts. Close monitoring of these wolves will continue.
The five Hawks Nest wolves remain together and have expanded their home range. The alpha female #127 dropped her collar on August 10. She apparently got stuck inside of a hollow log (possibly pursuing a rabbit or squirrel) and escaped after slipping her collar. The other pack members spent considerable efforts trying to free #127 as evidenced by the tremendous amount of excavation around and tearing up along the log. The radio collar was laying 1 m from the log. There was no blood or evidence of injury at the site. All five HN wolves were observed together by a bear hunter after the incident occurred .
Several individuals have asked why the decision was made to spay the recaptured Turkey Creek female #128 and not re-release her to the wild. Female #128 was in poor condition when she was recaptured after her mate was killed. Although she eats well in captivity, she continues to be underweight. She is also over five years old, which is middle-aged for a wolf. It is important that only the wolves with the best chance of surviving and contributing their genes to the wild population be released. Like all other release candidate wolves, #128 is already genetically well-represented in the captive population, thus, there is no reason to breed her in captivity. She will be placed with a social group of non-breeding wolves in a large, off-exhibit enclosure.
September 4, 1998
Wolf #166 alpha male of the Campbell Blue pack, has been moving extensively since the death of his mate. The pup #577 was traveling with him, and was last observed by project personnel on August 19. A private citizen reported an observation of the male and the pup on August 23. The male recently localized north of Alpine, Arizona. No recent sightings of the pup have been obtained. Project personnel continue to closely monitor the situation.
Subadult female #493 from the Hawks Nest Pack, has recently been separated from her pack and may be dispersing. She spent about 2 weeks mostly within the territory of, but separated from, her pack. On September 2nd, she was located near Luna, New Mexico, and has remained in the area to date. This wolf crossed the New Mexico border earlier this year, but returned to Arizona and was eventually re-united with her pack.
The other Hawks Nest pack members continue to expand their home range, traveling together, and periodically killing elk.
September 11, 1998
Female #493 from the Hawks Nest Pack returned to Arizona on September 4 after spending several days in New Mexico. She has remained just outside of her pack's expanding territory.
The two male Hawk's Nest yearlings #531 and #532 have been traveling separately from the alpha pair, but remaining within the pack's home range. Campbell Blue male #166 was recently observed by project staff on the carcass of an illegally hunter-killed bull elk. The pup was not observed. Interestingly, #166 and #493 have visited the same areas within a short time of each other, and are probably aware of each other's presence as solitary wolves of opposite gender.
September 16, 1998
The four Hawks Nest wolves that have recently been separated into two groups (alpha pair and the two male yearlings) have been reunited since Saturday, September 12. Biologists documented a calf elk kill by the pack on September 14.
Dispersing female #493 from the Hawks Nest Pack remains alone north of her previous territory. Male #166 also remains alone north of his previous territory, which appears to have been usurped by the Hawks Nest Pack. He was located near his old den site over the weekend.
September 23, 1998
The Campbell Blue male #166 remains alone north of his previous home range. He is doing well, and has apparently fed on kills made by a cougar (mountain lion) on two occasions. Substantial information about interactions between predators over kills is only obtained through the kind of intensive radio telemetry monitoring that is being done in the Mexican wolf and other wolf recovery projects. Instances of wolves stealing prey from cougars, occasionally killing or treeing cougars, and being killed by cougars have been documented in the Northern Rockies in recent years.
Pup #577 was last observed with male #166 on August 22, and may have been lost to unknown causes. While this is unfortunate, it is not surprising, particularly after the death of its mother, #174. The first year of life is extremely tenuous for wild wolf pups - in general, only about half survive their first year. It is encouraging that the Campbell Blue pair were able to raise the pup to over 3 months of age. This was their first season in the wild, and #174 had sustained a serious injury from a cow elk during the time that she was nursing her pups. Next year, experienced wolves will have a better chance of raising their pups, and additional pairs will be released.
The Hawks Nest pair remains together within their home range. Yearlings #531 and #532 also remain within the home range, sometimes with their parents, and sometimes separately. This is healthy, normal learning behavior for young wolves, who must eventually disperse from the pack and find their own mates if they are to reproduce.
Female #493, who has dispersed from the Hawks Nest Pack, remains alone in a remote location north of her pack's home range. She appears to be doing well.
October 9, 1998
The Hawks Nest Pack has reunited. Both yearling males from the pack have been exploring areas away from their parents over the last several weeks, both together and on their own. Male #531 entered the White Mountain Apache reservation for several days, and then returned. All three males were observed together within their normal home range during a monitoring flight yesterday. However, the Hawks Nest alpha female #127 was not observed. This female lost her radio collar on August 10. She was observed with her mate on several occasions since that time, but has not been observed since September 19. It is unusual for an alpha pair to be separated for extended periods, and field personnel are making extra effort to determine her whereabouts.
On September 24, project personnel observed a dead calf within the Hawks Nest territory, and located wolves in the immediate area. Wildlife Services personnel and the permittee were notified. The carcass was inspected and collected for necropsy. Both field sign in the area (carcass had been covered with pine needles), and a subsequent necropsy of the calf by local Wildlife Services personnel indicated that the calf had been killed by a mountain lion.
Both the Campbell Blue male #166 and the dispersed female #493 from the Hawks Nest Pack remain solitary in areas north of their previous home range. Both animals have crossed the New Mexico border on occasion, and #166 was located in New Mexico on September 8. Both animals appear to be doing well. They have been within 5 miles of each other at times, but do not appear to have made any contact.
October 23, 1998
The Campbell Blue male #166 continues to travel widely. He has been located on the Apache Forest both in Arizona and New Mexico, and is currently located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
The uncollared alpha female (#127) has not been observed during this reporting period.
The other HN members (alpha male #131, yearling males #531 and #532) ranged widely exploring new territory. The three males were always located together since the last update. The animals appear to be utilizing carrion and perhaps crippled elk from the hunting seasons, allowing them to move freely with an abundant food source.
The dispersing two year-old female #493 was found dead by project personnel near the Arizona/New Mexico border on October 18th. The cause of death has not been confirmed. As with all dead Mexican wolves, the carcass has been sent to the Ashland Forensics laboratory for necropsy. Until the time of her death, this female appeared to be doing well. She looked in good condition, was elusive and difficult to observe, and remained in remote areas away from human settlement.
There are four of the original eleven Mexican wolves currently living in the wild. In addition, three are currently in captivity after being recaptured. One of these is planned to be re-released. Three released Mexican wolves have died, one is missing, and a pup born in the wild is also missing and presumed dead.
November 16, 1998
The three Hawks Nest males have been traveling separately since November 3rd. Female #127 has not been observed, and it appears that the yearling males may be beginning to disperse. It is normal for dispersal to intensify in autumn months.
Yearling male #532 was shot and killed by an unknown person after he dispersed from his pack. Field personnel found him on November 7. The wolf’s body was shipped to the USFWS Forensics Laboratory in Ashland. Wolf #493 was also apparently shot, although final confirmation regarding cause of death is not yet available from the necropsy. With the recent confirmation that Campbell Blue female #174 was also shot, rather than killed by a mountain lion, this brings the number of wolves killed since August to three, and leaves only three free-ranging males. The unnecessary loss of these animals is especially unfortunate because they had all been adapting and surviving independently in the wild, none had attacked livestock, and the Campbell Blue pair might have successfully reared the first wild-born pup if its mother had not been killed.
Law enforcement officials from all cooperating agencies are investigating the deaths of these wolves. The Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killers. Private organizations and individuals are also offering a reward.
The field team plans to move to 21/2 year old females from the Ladder Ranch Captive Management Facility into acclimation pens on the Apache Forest on Monday. We hope that the presence of the females in the pens withing the males territory will attract the males and increase the chances of bonding when the females are released. If the bonding is successful, the females will benefit in their adaptation to the wild by the hunting and survival skills of the males.
November 19, 1998
Two female wolves from the Ladder Ranch were moved to the Campbell Blue and Engineer Springs acclimation pens on November 16th. On Wednesday, November 18th, the Campbell Blue male was captured without injury and transferred to the Engineer Springs acclimation pen to be paired with the new female.
December 10, 1998
On November 23, the alpha male from the Hawks Nest Pack (#131) was captured without injury in a foothold trap and placed in the Campbell Blue acclimation pen with a two-year old female wolf (#486) transferred from a pre-acclimation facility on the Ladder Ranch.
The Campbell Blue male (#166) has been in an acclimation pen at Engineer Springs with his new mate (two-year old female #482) since November 18.
The purpose of capturing the males was to facilitate pair-bonding with the new females after the loss of their mates. If the pair bonds are successful, we expect that the transition of the new females to the wild will be aided by the experience of the males, both of whom have been successfully living and hunting in the wild for several months.
On the same day, November 23, the remaining male yearling from the Hawks Nest Pack (#531) was found shot to death on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. This male had traveled to the reservation on several occasions and appeared to be establishing a home range in a remote area. He appeared to be in good body condition when he was killed. Law enforcement personnel are investigating this and the shootings of four other Mexican wolves that have occurred since August. At this time there are no free-ranging Mexican wolves. The four in acclimation pens and others will be released pending evaluation of their behavior, local prey and weather conditions, and assessment of additional measures to protect wolves from illegal killing.