Wolves

As the Wallow Fire continues to grow and impact eastern Arizona's landscape - displacing residents and threatening livelihoods - wildlife officers are on the ground helping evacuate residents, protect structures and mitigate the effects on wildlife. The fire has burned nearly 200,000 acres as of early June 6 and is at zero percent containment.

An interagency team is monitoring the effects of the fire on the endangered Mexican wolf population that lives in the area.

Two of four wolf packs that are known to reproduce regularly in Arizona - the Rim and Bluestem Packs - are in the immediately impacted area of the fire. Young pups have been confirmed for the Bluestem Pack, and the Rim Pack is displaying behavior that is consistent with denning activity. However, the fire's impact on these wolves thus far has been low.

As part of a larger containment strategy, a low-intensity fire was ignited along the fireline north of the Black River to remove ground-level fuels and help prevent a high-intensity fire in the vicinity of the Bluestem Pack. This burnout was intended to reduce the intensity of the main fire when it burns through the denning area and is an important step promoting the survival of the pups associated with this pack.

"Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem for all wildlife, including this wild population of Mexican wolves," said Chris Bagnoli, Arizona Game and Fish's Interagency Field Team (IFT) Leader for the wolf reintroduction. "The team has to balance the desire to help protect the affected wolves, while also preserving the bond between the pups and the adults and not putting fire crews at risk. Unfortunately, removing the pups now and returning them to the den later isn't an option as the adults will not accept them later."

The fire also has the potential to effect the Hawks Nest Pack, which is denning several miles away from the where the front line of the fire is as of June 3. The team will continue to monitor this pack as the fire progresses in their direction.

The Eastern Arizona Type II Incident Management Team, commanded by John Philbin, is also assisting in the wolf monitoring effort. The team has allowed project personnel to use a helicopter for survey flights, which have located both the Rim and Bluestem Packs by their telemetry collars. The information obtained from the collared wolves confirms that they are still located adjacent to den sites, indicating that the pups are most likely still alive.

"As an element of a fire-adapted ecosystem, these are wild wolves and like most wildlife, they have an amazing ability to move in response to wildfire," Bagnoli said. "Forest service personnel reported seeing one of the Bluestem pack members and at least one pup of the year during operations Wednesday so we know that the pups are still being tended by the adults."

The Interagency Field Team will monitor the after-effects of the fire and may provide supplemental feeding if the wolf's prey base diminishes significantly immediately after the fire. The fire is expected to initiate regrowth in the next couple of years that will help provide plenty of forage for elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer.

Mexican wolf reintroduction is a joint effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services, and other local stakeholders.

(6) comments

GilaMan

Okay,, yeah right what about the poor friggen wolf pups in the fires path. They shouldn't be in the wild in the first place. They are HYBRIDS not real wild wolves...At the cost of over 400.000 per wolf does that sound like a good deal? Another thing to keep in mind everywhere they live in the lower 48 they have decimated the wild game herds.. People say they only pray on old and weak. Yeah the weak ones like baby Elk, Deer, Antelope and cattle. Like I said the more Hybrid/Wolves you can KISS our game herds goodbye........WOLVES...Government Sponsored TERRORISTS.....

GilaMan

about the poor friggen wolf pups in the fires path. They shouldn't be in the wild in the first place. They are HYBRIDS not real wild wolves...At the cost of over 400.000 per wolf does that sound like a good deal? Another thing to keep in mind everywhere they live in the lower 48 they have decimated the wild game herds.. People say they only pray on old and weak. Yeah the weak ones like baby Elk, Deer, Antelope and cattle. Like I said the more Hybrid/Wolves you can KISS our game herds goodbye........WOLVES...Government Sponsored TERRORISTS..... [sad]

reality22

I can see it now......these wolves will receive better treatment than the people affected by the fire! Disgusting!

GilaMan

Team has to balance the desire to help protect the affected wolves, while also preserving the bond between the pups and the adults and not putting fire crews at risk.... How much is that going to cost us??? You know I think the fire crews have their hands full right now... Ya think??

Russ_in_WML

Maybe this will end the wolf program. Lets hope so. In the meantime, lets start taking care of the forests we have by better sound resource management. This includes thinning. Its obvious the enviromentalist plan sucks. Screw the wolves and screw the owls.

reality22

Let's spend tons of federal money on wolves....... forget about the houses that are burning to the ground! Stay the heck out of the are! The fire fighers need the air space!

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