PO BOX 507
RESERVE NM 87830
Ed Wehrheim, Chairman
Contact: Ed Wehrheim, Catron County Chairman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catron County Presses FWS on Habituated Wolves
RESERVE, N.M. A recent inquest determined that Kenton Carnegie had been killed by wolves two years ago in Ontario, Canada. On October 11 of this year, the Catron County Commission sent a letter to Dr. Benjamin Tuggle of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notifying him of the County's findings of imminent danger and a demand for permanent removal of a male Mexican wolf from the Durango pack. The wolf had, at that time, been documented as frequenting two homes, one twenty-one times and another seven times over the course of a few months.
In its letter to Dr. Tuggle, the County cited the "10J Rule",a part of the Endangered Species Act which applies to the experimental, non-essential Mexican wolf population. This rule provides guidance for management of the Mexican wolf program and definitions of what constitutes a problem wolf. The County pointed out that the wolf in question met four of the five possible identifiers (only one is required for a wolf to be so identified). According to the 10J Rule, a problem wolf can be removed from the wild by the wolf program before it performs some action which may require, by the same Rule, that the wolf be destroyed.
However, in his October 27 letter of reply, Dr. Tuggle chose to disagree with the County's findings, stating that the wolf's actions did not constitute problem behavior, and further stated that the behaviors exhibited by the wolf would be best dealt with via "aversive conditioning methods", stating that the measures had been proven to be successful.
During the ten days that these methods were employed by authorities, the wolf returned to one of the homes five times.
"Dr. Tuggle seems to think the wolf's being documented at homes 28 times is normal wolf behavior," said Catron County's Wolf Interaction Investigator, Jess Carey. "He thinks it is acceptable for a family to have to live with people on their property on a daily basis, hazing the wolves away to protect the family."
According to a recent report by Dr. Valerius Geist, a Canadian biologist, becoming used to and not afraid of humans is one of the final steps before a wolf starts seeing humans as prey. Dr. Geist consulted wolf experts from around the world and identified seven stages of wolf habituation leading to attacks on humans.
"It appears that Dr. Tuggle is content that wolves in Catron County are displaying the exact behavior displayed by wolves that killed and ate Kenton Carnegie," said Ed Wehrheim, Chairman of the Catron County Commission. "We have a serious problem of escalating habituated behavior here. We told Dr. Tuggle very clearly of the evidence we have that the wolf is habituated and therefore a problem wolf. We invited him to come down here and examine our evidence. Our documentation includes three videos that were taken of wolves in people's yards, taken from their living room window. A habituated wolf is a dangerous wolf and we need to get these habituated wolves out of the our county so they are no longer threatening our people."
In a reply letter to Dr. Tuggle from the County, Wehrheim stated "the County has taken no action in order to give you time to do your job. However, we can wait no longer."
Commissioner Wehrheim stated that the County will take measures to protect its citizens, acting under the Catron County Wolf Protection Ordinance.
"It is the moral and legal responsibility of the Catron County Commission, first and foremost, to protect the safety, health and welfare of the residents of Catron County," the letter concludes.