Mexican gray wolf

A Mexican gray wolf, fitted with a radio collar, is shown in this 2018 photo.

PHOENIX — A monthly update on the Mexican wolf has shed some light on a trapping incident last month.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department issued its monthly update on the Mexican gray wolf. AZGFD tracks the conditions and movements of packs and collared wolves as part of conservation efforts.

Activist group WildEarth guardians issued a press release in early December condemning trapping practices in New Mexico, claiming that two wolves have been caught in leghold traps.

“It’s business as usual here in New Mexico, with endangered species being caught in leghold traps,” Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians said at the time.

While the first incident with the wolf was acknowledged after the wolf was taken in for treatment, the second trapping incident had no official source at the time of the news release. However, the AZGFD confirmed the second case this week.

“In November, the Prieto Pack was located within its traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF. In November, a member of the public reported capturing two wolves in foothold traps,” AZGFD wrote. “The IFT (Interagency Field Team) responded immediately, processed, collared and temporarily removed from the wild mp1845 for veterinary care. The IFT determined a second wolf had been captured and was traveling with a trap still attached to its foot. At the time of this publication, the IFT has documented the second wolf is traveling with the pack and the trap is no longer attached to its foot. This incident remains under investigation.”

Trapping is legal on public lands in New Mexico, and trap locations are not required to be marked or that warnings that traps are present be issued.

AZGFD noted that the Interagency Field Team had established a diversionary food cache to reduce future wolf incidents with livestock.

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