SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- The uproar over Mexican wolves in Catron County is reaching a crescendo.

The Catron County Commission approved a resolution in mid-January authorizing the killing of wolves that kill cattle or other animals.

Last week, the commission issued a press release announcing the resolution. The story was picked up by the Albuquerque Journal and other state and regional news outlets.

County wolf investigator Jess Carey released a summary of all cattle deaths and wolf incidents since he began his work in April 2006. His report includes 24 cattle deaths that are either confirmed or probably wolf-related. His report includes a total of 58 wolf complaints, including horse deaths and injuries, a sheep death and dog deaths.



?These wolves are on a killing spree,? commission chairman Ed Wehrheim said. ?They killed a horse on Whitewater Mesa just the other day, the second horse in just one month.?

The commission met Wednesday. The Mexican grey wolf reintroduction program was on the agenda again. A full report on that meeting will be in next week?s Mountain Mail.

Prior to the meeting, Laura Schneberger, a rancher in southeast Catron County and the director of the Gila Livestock Association, sent out an e-mail plea for residents to attend the meeting and speak out against expanding the wolf program.

On the same day, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the killing of a Mexican wolf, male 796. According to the agency release, the wolf, a six-year-old, wild-born wolf has been involved in three confirmed depredation incidents involving three cows in New Mexico since March 15, 2006.

Citing the rising number of close encounters with wolves, particularly where children are involved, the Catron County Commissioners approved a resolution on Wednesday, January 17, which sets the stage for enacting a county-wide ordinance allowing the Commissioners to give the go-ahead to kill Mexican wolves which threaten human lives.

Carey said an attack on a human, particularly a child or an elderly person, is inevitable at the rate the incidents of wolf attack are occurring on dogs, cats and other domestic animals which live close to or with humans.

In November, a wolf attacked a dog within several feet of an eight-year-old girl. The Commissioners and Carey agree that existing rules and standard operating procedures for the Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Project are not sufficient to ensure protection of humans and that the County has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens.

Wehrheim said he is concerned because these are just more incidents in what appears to be a never-ending spiral of killings of animals that will lead to a wolf attack on a human.  The County passed an emergency declaration last year primarily to put a halt to the economic devastation caused by the presence of Mexican wolves which not only hunt wild game, but also kill cattle, horses, dogs, cats and other domestic animals.

That emergency declaration did nothing to curtail the reintroduction program, which was started in 1995.