Asha the wolf captured near Coyote

Asha, the Mexican wolf that has twice left the federally-designated experimental population area and ventured into northern New Mexico, has been captured once again. Wildlife officials caught Asha on Saturday near Coyote—located east of Cuba and west of Abiquiu—and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish transported her via helicopter to the Sevilleta Wolf […]

Asha the wolf captured near Coyote

Asha, the Mexican wolf that has twice left the federally-designated experimental population area and ventured into northern New Mexico, has been captured once again.

Wildlife officials caught Asha on Saturday near Coyote—located east of Cuba and west of Abiquiu—and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish transported her via helicopter to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility.

While known to advocates as Asha based on a name school children gave her, the wolf is known to wildlife management officials as F-2754. 

Brady McGee, the Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a press release that officials were concerned about her safety and well-being, which led to the decision to capture her.

He said often wolves that leave their pack and wander like Asha are searching for a mate. 

Asha had virtually no chance of finding one in the Coyote area as there are no other known wolves roaming there. 

But she could face risks such as being mistaken for a coyote and shot. Coyotes have no protection and wildlife advocates have in the past sought to get coyotes listed as endangered in areas where the Mexican wolf occurs because of the resemblance between the two species.

Officials carefully selected a captive-bred male wolf to pair her with upon her arrival to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Area. 

“By pairing her with a carefully selected mate in captivity, we are hoping she will breed and have pups this spring,” McGee said. “The best outcome for her is to be released back into the wild, where she and her offspring can contribute to Mexican wolf recovery.”

Asha was born in 2021 in Arizona and left her pack last year. In January, she was captured near Angel Fire and was moved back to Arizona earlier this year after being temporarily held in captivity.

While wildlife officials say it was in Asha’s best interest to be captured, advocates have decried that decision.

“It’s such an old school, ‘command and control’ approach to wildlife management,” Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, said in a press release. “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.”

Advocates like Anderson view the experimental population zone as an arbitrary boundary that restricts wolves from accessing prime habitat.

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

She is not the only wolf to have left the experimental population area, which uses Interstate 40 as a northern boundary.

In Arizona, a male wolf who was called Anubis left the area twice. Both times he headed up toward Flagstaff. Ultimately, he was killed.

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