Concerns regarding the potential negative impacts of regulated furbearer trapping to reintroduced Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi), led to an executive order prohibiting trapping in the New Mexico, USA, portion of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. This ban was to last for 6 months and required an evaluation of the risk posed to wolves by traps and snares legally permitted in New Mexico. We reviewed potential threats to wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, including threats associated with regulated furbearer trapping. One hundred Mexican gray wolf mortalities have been documented during the reintroduction effort (1998–2011). Of those mortalities with a known cause, >81% were human-caused resulting from illegal shooting (n = 43), vehicle collisions (n = 14), lethal removal by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS; n = 12), non-project-related trapping (n = 2), project-related trapping (n = 1), and legal shooting by the public (n = 1). Ten wolves died due to unknown causes. The remaining 17 mortalities were a result of natural causes (e.g., starvation, disease). An additional 23 wolves were permanently, but non-lethally, removed from the wild by the USFWS. Of 13 trapping incidents in New Mexico that involved non-project trappers (i.e., trappers not associated with USFWS or U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services), 7 incidents are known to have resulted in injuries to wolves: 2 wolves sustained injuries severe enough to result in leg amputations and 2 additional wolves died as a result of injuries sustained. Foothold traps with rubber-padded jaws and properly set snares may reduce trap-related injuries to Mexican gray wolves; however, impacts caused by trapping are overshadowed by other anthropogenic impacts (e.g., illegal shooting, non-lethal permanent removal, and vehicle collisions).
Additional Publication Details
Anthropogenic impacts to the recovery of the Mexican gray wolf with a focus on trapping-related incidents
Wildlife Society Bulletin
New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit