SILVER CITY, N.M.— The endangered Mexican gray wolf who spent five days pacing along the border wall in New Mexico before turning back was found shot but alive Wednesday.
The wolf, named Mr. Goodbar before his 2020 release into the wild in Arizona, suffered a gunshot wound to the knee on his lower right leg, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He was darted from the air by helicopter and transported to the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo, where veterinarians are amputating all or part of his leg.
The wolf is expected to survive and will be released to the wild after he recovers. The shooting is the subject of a federal law enforcement investigation. Mexican gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The maximum penalty for violating the Act is one year in jail and a $50,000 fine.
“It’s so awful that this young wolf blocked by a despicable border wall has now been shot and his own mobility curtailed with each step,” said Michael Robinson at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Mr. Goodbar’s painful experiences illustrate the inhospitable world we’ve created for Mexican gray wolves and other vulnerable animals.”
Mr. Goodbar was located during the Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual census of wolves in the Southwest, which is conducted by helicopter and entails capturing wolves to attach radio collars.
A year ago the census revealed 186 Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The 2021 number is expected to be more than 200 and should be released within weeks. There are also several dozen wolves in the wild in Mexico.
“We hope the criminal who shot Mr. Goodbar will be brought to justice,” said Robinson. “Here’s hoping Mr. Goodbar will be the wiliest lobo on three paws once he’s released, and that we can change federal policies that put these beautiful and vital animals at risk.”
Federal and state agencies, conservation organizations including the Center, and anonymous individuals have offered a reward totaling $49,000 for information leading to a conviction for illegally killing a Mexican wolf. A similar reward may be available for information that leads to the conviction for the attempted killing of a wolf, as in this instance. Anyone with information should call 1-844-397-8477 or email [email protected].
A century ago the U.S. government worked to exterminate gray wolves from throughout the western U.S. on behalf of the livestock industry. After killing what was likely the last U.S.-born wolf in the West in southwestern Colorado, the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1950 began poisoning wolves in Mexico as a foreign aid measure.
After passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, some of the last surviving wolves were captured alive in Mexico. Seven captive wolves were successfully bred in captivity. Their descendants were reintroduced into the U.S. beginning in 1998 and into Mexico beginning in 2011. The border wall constructed across southern New Mexico from 2018 to 2020 now blocks these wolves from going back and forth, which is needed to bolster their genetic diversity.
On Thursday the Service closed a public comment period around its proposal to manage Mexican wolves in the U.S. The Center for Biological Diversity, whose litigation with allies led to a new rule to be finalized by July, submitted comments criticizing the proposed continuation of policies that insufficiently protect the wolves.
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