ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Officials have captured Asha, a Mexican wolf who has been wandering in northern New Mexico for the last few weeks. Advocates wanted the wolf to be allowed to keep on its own path, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants the wolf to contribute to repopulation efforts.
Last week, KRQE News 13 highlighted the debate between those who thought Asha should be allowed to roam free and those who thought that Asha should be returned to the established Mexican Wolf Experimental Project Area (MWEPA), the main area of repopulation efforts in southern Arizona and New Mexico. A key reason officials wanted to bring Asha back to that area was to help her breed.
“As it is breeding season and there are no other known wolves in the area, there was a high likelihood of a negative interaction or breeding with domestic dogs,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Aislinn Maestas writes in a press release. “Since January 9, [the wolf] showed no signs of returning to the MWEPA.”
Sunday, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish located Asha near Taos with a helicopter. And she’s being held at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility, near Socorro.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan is to pair Asha with a male wolf and then send the pair to Mexico later this year. They add that because these wolves have genes already represented in the MWEPA, in Arizona and New Mexico, they’ll be more helpful in establishing strong wolf populations in Mexico.