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Wolf council extends deadline for ranchers

The lobo was once “top dog” in the borderlands, and when the wolf population returns to healthy numbers, biologists believe that lobos will restore balance to the Southwest’s ecosystems by keeping deer, elk and javelina populations in check. Photo: Image by © Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wolf council extends deadline for ranchers

By Laura Kittell. CREATED May 3, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KGUN9-TV/AP) - Federal wildlife officials say the deadline has been extended for ranchers to apply for payments under a program meant to ease conflicts between Mexican gray wolves and livestock.

Ranchers in parts of New Mexico and Arizona now have until June 2 to apply for the payments.

Officials say the deadline was extended another month.

The Mexican gray wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. Commonly referred to as "El lobo," the wolf is gray with light brown fur on its back. Though they once numbered in the thousands, these wolves were wiped out in the U.S. by the mid-1970s..

In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 11 Mexican gray wolves back into the wild in Arizona.

The chairman of the coexistence council, Sisto Hernandez, says the goal of the payments is to increase the number of ranchers who receive financial compensation to offset management costs that result from the presence of wolves.

The payments will be based on a variety of factors, including whether a rancher's land or grazing lease overlaps with wolf territory. Another consideration is the number of surviving wolf pups in the territory.

There are an estimated 83 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, they remain the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world.