Fewer Mexican gray wolves were found dead in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona this past year, and federal officials say efforts aimed at reducing conflicts with livestock seem to be helping.
Officials confirm that three of the four wolves found dead in 2012 were illegally shot.
In the most recent case, the carcass of a female member of Arizona's Hawks Nest pack was found in December. The cause of death is under investigation.
Eight wolves were found dead in 2011. Three were shot, two were hit by vehicles and three died of natural causes.
For the 2012 fiscal year, the coordinator of the wolf recovery program, Sherry Barrett, says officials made 19 payments worth more than $27,500 from a special interdiction fund that was set up to reimburse ranchers who lost livestock to the wolves.