As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
The Bluestem Pack still runs in the White Mountains of Arizona–twelve years after the original family of wolves was released into the wild. Last week a telemetry flight located the alpha pair, AF1042 and AM1341, and five pups born in 2013 a few miles south of Noble Peak. It appears they probably also have new pups, born in the spring of this year.
When I last wrote an update back in April, little was known about AM1341. A few months after the Bluestem’s prior alpha male, AM806, was illegally shot in the summer of 2012, an unidentified male began traveling with the pack. In January, 2014 he was captured, collared, and assigned a studbook number, but it took a genetics test to confirm that he was the father of last year’s pups.
The pack has gotten into some trouble over the last two months. One of the 2013 pups, f1332, has been traveling alone for several weeks and in June killed a calf. A second incident occurred in mid-July when a wolf injured two horses; telemetry reports confirmed that it was AF1042, the alpha female.
Most of the Bluestem Pack’s 2012 pups (the last litter fathered by AM806) have perished, but one, F1280, survives and has become the alpha female of the Hawks Nest Pack. The two wolves (AF1280 and AM1038) have established their territory in the north-central portion of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona and were recently located a few miles west of Gobbler Peak. In late July the field team documented the alpha pair howling accompanied by one or two pups.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted public hearings last week in Arizona and New Mexico to take comments on proposed changes to the rule that governs the management of the small population of Mexican wolves that live in the wild. Fish and Wildlife’s final decision, expected in January, will greatly impact the odds that today’s pups will be able to find mates and establish territories–to survive and thrive.
I attended the meeting in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on Wednesday night and the comments mostly favored the lobos, but they still have a long way to go. I’ll write more about the proposed rule changes and the hearing in upcoming posts.