The wolf recovery team uses feeding caches to draw wolves away from cattle, but ranchers say the wolves are becoming more brazen and that efforts to scare them away using range riders on horseback or flagging along fence lines hasn’t worked. They also say they don’t receive timely compensation for livestock lost to wolves.

“It is an incredible management hurdle for those of us on the ground to deal with the wolves,” said Tom Paterson, who ranches along the New Mexico state line and is a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. “Even if we put our cattle on private pastures where we are every day going around and looking, they still kill our cattle.”

Paterson has lost several cows and calves this year. He described a trail of blood that stretched 150 feet (46 meters) along a creek and cases in which cattle were attacked and their unborn calves eaten.

“This is a broken program,” he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is planning virtual public hearings and information sessions on the proposed changes. The public will have 90 days to comment.

Once common throughout the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico, the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated by the 1970s, prompting the U.S. government to develop a captive breeding program. There are about 350 Mexican wolves in more than 55 zoos and other facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.

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