Asha The Mexican Gray Wolf Was Captured Again In New Mexico After Wandering Outside Of Arbitrary “Designated Zone”

Photo by USFWS

Today, government officials announced that they have captured “Asha,” a young female Mexican wolf who has journeyed into northern New Mexico twice this year. Asha has been roaming without incident in the Jemez Mountains north of Interstate 40 since November 2nd, but because she was outside of the “boundaries” of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (“MWEPA”), government officials decided to trap her and take her into captivity again.

“It’s such an old school, ‘command and control’ approach to wildlife management,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “Wolves roam, and roaming is an integral part of their individual and collective identities. Asha deserved to live her wild life and not be used as a pawn in the political battles over wolf recovery in the west.”

After journeying close to Taos, New Mexico, in January of this year, Asha was captured, moved to captivity, and subsequently released in Arizona in June. She almost immediately started running for northern New Mexico again.

“Asha is repeatedly telling us what peer-reviewed, independent science also indicates: that lobos need access to this habitat in the southern Rocky Mountains,” said Chris Smith, southwest wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “She doesn’t know it, but her journeys have a powerful message that resonates and should be taken seriously from a policy perspective.”

Asha is one of two wolves that have recently made headlines by repeatedly dispersing north of Interstate 40. Anubis, a male lobo, made two journeys to the Flagstaff area in Arizona before sadly being killed.

The Interstate 40 boundary is the result of state pressure to restrict the recovery of Mexican wolves to a limited portion of the Southwest. But leading scientists have suggested that three interconnected subpopulations of at least 200 wolves each need to be present in the Southwest to achieve recovery. The southern Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon Ecoregion represent excellent opportunities for two new subpopulations, along with the existing population of roughly 250 lobos in the Greater Gila Bioregion.

“I hope this time that Asha has learned her lesson about wandering beyond the politically-defined recovery area and, when she’s next released into the wild, promptly slips her collar,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project.

“Asha’s capture is a frustrating, but not permanent pause in her journey. Despite physical and political barriers, she’s continued to show the nation that her home exists north of I-40, not in captivity or in the arbitrary confines of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area. When we finally stop trying to control wolves, we’ll realize that ‘recovery’ is much easier to achieve,” Regan Downey, Director of Education at Wolf Conservation Center told WAN.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, wolves do not recognize state or political boundaries,” Leslie Williams, Founder of The #RelistWolves Campaign told WAN. “Wolves now only occupy a fraction of their historical range and continue to face constant threats. There has to be a national plan to protect all wolves, like Asha, and ensure that they can regain a foothold in the lands they used to roam.”

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