SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -— The alpha female of a Mexican Gray Wolf pack in New Mexico has been spared her life after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to let Scottsdale based Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center provide permanent sanctuary to the animal.
At last official count, there were only 58 Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild, making them one of the most endangered mammals in North America.
The wolf is the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack in southwestern New Mexico, and has four puppies. USFWS personnel are currently working to capture her.
The puppies will not be taken from the pack, as they will be cared for by their father, said Linda Searles, Founder and Executive Director of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
Fish and Wildlife officials signed an order to shoot the wolf on Thursday, which was accused of killing too many cows. The order was rescinded Friday after SWCC stepped in.
This is the first time since 2007 that the agency planned to kill a wolf because of predatory attacks on livestock.
The rancher who lost the cattle has been compensated.
SWCC is the only wildlife facility in Arizona capable of handling large mammals such as wolves, and serves as a holding facility for the USFWS's Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.
"We're happy we could find a solution to this situation, other than killing the animal, because there are so few of these wolves left," said Searles. "We will continue to work with Fish and Wildlife through the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program to maintain the species, which is an important part of our ecosystem and our Western heritage."
The Nina Mason Pulliam Foundation will provide funds to construct an enclosure for the female wolf, but Searles said the organization needs donations to help it care for the animal.