Mr. Goodbar, famous Borderlands stray wolf, shot dead in New Mexico but survives

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SILVER CITY, NM– The endangered Mexican gray wolf who spent five days surveying the border wall in New Mexico before turning back was found shot dead but alive on Wednesday.

The wolf, named Mr. Goodbar before his 2020 release into the wild in Arizona, suffered a gunshot wound to the knee in the lower right leg, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He was sent from the sky by helicopter and transported to the Albuquerque BioPark zoo, where veterinarians amputated all or part of his leg.

The wolf is expected to survive and will be released back into the wild after recovery. The shooting is being investigated by federal law enforcement. Mexican gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The maximum penalty for violating the law is one year in prison and a fine of $50,000.

“It’s so horrific that this young wolf blocked by a dastardly border wall was shot and his own mobility was reduced with every step,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sir. Goodbar’s painful experiences illustrate the inhospitable world we have created for Mexican gray wolves and other vulnerable animals.

Mr Goodbar was located during the Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual wolf count in the Southwest, which is conducted by helicopter and involves 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 over 200 and should be released within a few 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,” Robinson said. “We hope that Mr. Goodbar will be the most cunning lobo on three legs once he is freed, and that we can change federal policies that endanger these beautiful and vital animals.”

Federal and state agencies, conservation organizations including the Center, and anonymous individuals offered a reward totaling $49,000 for information leading to a conviction for unlawfully killing a Mexican wolf. A similar reward may be available for information that leads to a conviction for the attempted murder of a wolf, as in this case. Anyone with information should call 1-844-397-8477 or email fws_tips@fws.gov.

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A century ago, the US government worked to exterminate gray wolves from across the western United States on behalf of the ranching industry. After killing what was likely the last US-born wolf in western southwestern Colorado, the Fish and Wildlife Service began poisoning wolves in Mexico in 1950 as a foreign aid measure.

After the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, some of the last surviving wolves were captured alive in Mexico. Seven captive wolves have been successfully bred in captivity. Their descendants were reintroduced to the United States from 1998 and to Mexico from 2011. The border wall built in southern New Mexico from 2018 to 2020 now prevents these wolves from coming and going, which is necessary to enhance their genetic diversity.

On Thursday, the Service closed a public comment period on its proposal to manage Mexican wolves in the United States. 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 wolves.

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