09:21 PM

For Immediate Release

Four Endangered Mexican Wolves Caught in Traps on U.S. Forest Service Lands in New Mexico in Last Two Months

ALBUQUERQUE (February 12, 2019) – Defenders of Wildlife has learned that four more Mexican gray wolves were trapped in New Mexico on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service over the last two months. The four endangered wolves included a breeding-age female that died and a male that was taken into captivity only to have his injured leg amputated. These two wolves are from the Prieto Pack.

The other two were re-released to the wild and their fate is unknown. All four trapping incidents occurred in New Mexico. At least 42 Mexican wolves have been caught by traps in the Southwest since 2002, an average of 2.5 each year.

 Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“It is heart breaking how many endangered Mexican gray wolves have been injured or killed as a result of commercial and recreational trapping in New Mexico. This is having a significant impact on the recovery of the species. Every wolf lost to trapping is unnecessary and unacceptable.

“Defenders of Wildlife calls on state and federal agencies, including New Mexico Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service, to take action to stop this loss including prohibiting commercial and recreational trapping and poisons in the occupied range of the Mexican gray wolf so recovery goals can be reached.

“Leg-hold traps, snares and poisons are banned on public lands in Arizona and all lands in Colorado. We are encouraged that the New Mexico Legislature is currently considering long-overdue legislation that would address commercial and recreation trapping on public land or in areas with non-target species that might prevent future and unnecessary tragedies like this.”


  • According to USFWS information, at least 42 Mexican gray wolves have been caught in traps since 2003. Just four in Arizona and the remainder all in New Mexico. At last count in January 2017, just 114 Mexican gray wolves roamed the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. Those wolves are the result of a reintroduction program that began in 1998 with the releases of family groups of well-bonded male and female pairs and their pups.
  • A federal judge in April 2018 rejected provisions in a 2015 federal management rule that unlawfully imposed roadblocks to recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf. The rule arbitrarily limited the lobos’ population numbers, banned them from needed recovery habitat, and loosened the rules against killing the animals in the wild.
  • New Mexico House Bill 366, the Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act, was introduced on January 25, 2019. The Act would make it illegal to use a trap, snare or poison for purposes of capturing, injuring or killing an animal on public land except in very limited circumstances. The Act exempts the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or a conservancy district of the state or its employee, agent or representative acting in the course of its official duties related to ecosystem management as well as the use of cage traps for live capture of nuisance animals by property, crops or livestock owners on public land.
  • New Mexico Senate Bill 390, Trapping Regulation Changes, would direct the state game commission to consider fur-bearing animal populations, degree of public recreation, proximity to human population centers and potential impacts to non-target species when developing trapping rules for public and private lands and the types of trap or snare devices that may be used. At the same time not preventing livestock producers from the taking of bobcats that are doing damage to livestock or government employees or their contractors from the lawful discharge of their official duties.
  • Federal, state and tribal wildlife agencies utilize targeted, humane trapping as a primary tool for live capture of some wolves as needed for radio collaring and veterinary health checks.
  • In 1996 Colorado amended its constitution to make it unlawful to take wildlife with any leghold trap, any instant kill body-gripping design trap, or by poison or snare in the state of Colorado subject to exceptions for legal wildlife management purposes.
  • In 1994 Arizona made it illegal to use certain methods of taking "wildlife" on public land, including federal, state, county and municipal land subject to exceptions for legal wildlife management purposes. The listed devices prohibited are any leghold trap, any instant kill body gripping design trap, or by a poison or a snare. The prohibition passed by ballot measure.

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