Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Educating Animal Planet About Real Wolves - Part Four


 Animal Planet has been receiving a lot of heat since falsely portraying wolves as man-eating beasts in their sensational and thoroughly misleading "Super Wolves" program. Petitions demanding the channel pull the programming has been circulating widely. Animal Planet, however, is right about something -- wolves and other wild animals often demonstrate that they are indeed SUPER! Today’s #SUPERWOLF was nominated by lobo citizen advocate Jean Ossorio. Thank you, Jean!

In the 360 days I’ve spent camping and hiking in the Mexican wolf recovery area in eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico, I’ve seen 44 of the animals in the wild. I try to learn as much as I can about their stories. One lobo stands out not only as a super wolf, but a super dad.

Mexican wolf M1038 came into the world in a den in the wild in New Mexico in 2006. Like all lobos, he was born blind, deaf, and completely dependent first on his mother’s milk, and later, on the hunting skills of his parents and the other members of his family, or pack. During his first year he remained with his pack, learning how to be a wolf.

In early 2008 he had left his birth family, found a female wolf, and settled down in new territory, forming the Fox Mountain Pack. On June 23, 2008, the Mexican wolf field team observed three pups with the pack. Sadly, the following day the adult female wolf was found dead of a gunshot wound. The three little pups, only a few weeks old, were left without a mother.

Unlike some mammals, male wolves play a strong role in raising their young, but hunting and caring for three pups posed a huge challenge to M1038. The field team pitched in and gave him a hand by caching food for the little family. A remote camera placed by the food cache showed that M1038 himself had an injured rear leg. In spite of his injury, this super wolf succeeded in raising all three pups until the end of the year. Two of those pups, now six years old, are leaders of their own packs in the wild.

Late in 2009 the field team lost his radio signal. Although they considered him “fate unknown,” M1038 wasn’t lost forever. In September 2011 the field team observed two adult wolves and a younger wolf with the three pups of the Hawk’s Nest Pack. The breeding female of that pack, F1110, had lost her mate to a gunshot in 2010, and she herself had fallen to a lightning strike in August 2011.

One of the adults observed with the pups in September had a “non-functioning rear leg and white radio collar,” according to the wolf project monthly update. It was M1038! Again, he was left with young pups to rear, but this time he had the help of F1208, a daughter of F1110 by her previous mate.

He and F1208 paired up and produced a litter of pups in 2012. In December, tragedy struck for the third time. F1208 was found dead by gunshot, leaving M1038 alone for the third time. Never one to give up, however, this valiant super wolf has found a fourth mate, a dispersing female from the Bluestem Pack, F1280. Last month the field team saw signs that the Hawk’s Nest Pack is denning again in Arizona. M1038, the lobo super dad with the non-functioning leg may have another litter of pups to rear. This time I hope his mate survives to help him.

Stay tuned for more SUPER wolf stories and learn more about Mexican gray wolves at MexicanWolves.org.

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