After months of giving the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the slip, Mexican wolf F1188, the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack, was unfortunately captured. Back in August, USFWS issued a kill order on the elusive loba for the depredation of cattle. This news raised hackles among many wildlife advocacy organizations and their supporters. With less than 58 Mexican gray wolves in the wild, the call for her lethal removal was unacceptable and the masses agreed. The public outcry on behalf this mother with pups gained great momentum. Thankfully, not long after the kill order was issued, the great folks from the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center offered to pay to have F1188 captured alive and to give her a permanent home at their facility in Scottsdale, AZ. It was a bittersweet victory for the wolf and those of us who spoke out against the kill order, because now this critically endangered wild wolf will remain in permanent captivity. F1188 is an important member of her pack, she leaves behind her growing pups born last spring. While it’s a relief her life was spared, her removal from the wild represents another unnatural challenge for the less than 58 Mexican gray wolves that currently reside in the wild and the family she leaves behind.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or “lobo,” is the smallest, southernmost occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Aggressive predator control programs at the turn of the century all but exterminated the Mexican wolf from the wild. With the capture of the last 7 remaining wild Mexican wolves approximately 30 years ago, a captive breeding program was initiated helping to save the Mexican wolf from extinction. Today, the captive population consists of approximately 300 animals, and encompasses close to 50 zoos and wildlife facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.