The Southwest's endangered Mexican gray wolves -- with just three breeding pairs left in the wild -- are hanging on by a thread. The last thing they need is one of their own gunned down by an employee of the government that's supposed to be nursing this wild population back to health.
An estimated two million wolves once roamed freely across North America, including most of the United States. But bounties, a federal extermination program and human settlement drove the species to near extinction in most of the lower 48.
In many cultures, the full moon in January is referred to as the Wolf Moon. As we think this through a bit more, we realize that the wolf is not howling at the moon but at his pack mates. This is their time for communication, when the earth rests still and their voices carry best.
Most people still see "conservation" and "ranching" as two very separate, and often incompatible, objectives. But farms and ranches should coexist with event our most important native predator species.
Animals are very good at what they do or they wouldn't have made it through the process of natural selection, let alone the spread of humanity across the earth. If what an animal does is kill things, then unless it's a very small animal, I don't get close to it.
What will it take for wolves to thrive here? What do wolves need to prosper? How will politics, agencies, ranchers, hunters and trappers, environmental activists and urban and suburban citizens affect whether wolves will flourish here?