Birthdays abound! Wolves are mono-estrus, breeding only once a year during the winter months. So springtime is birthday season! Today we celebrate the newest member to join the Wolf Conservation Center family – Mexican gray wolf M1133! We also want to honor F749 today. As M1133’s mother, she deserves to be celebrated too!
M1133 was born at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and lived at New Mexico’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility since his puppyhood. Like most of the Mexican wolves at the WCC, M1133 was cared for in a way to best prepare him for a future in the wild. In order to ensure the genetic health of this terribly limited population, it’s vital that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program grants new wolves an opportunity to join their wild kin. And what an amazing gift to bestow – freedom!
In January of 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the release of M1133 in hopes that the young male would fill a void within Arizona’s Bluestem pack created after alpha male M806 was illegally shot and killed on July 6, 2012. M1133 was released on January 8th in the Apache National Forest of east-central Arizona, however, his stint in the wild was short lived. After just 3 weeks in the wild, M1133 was placed back in captivity. USFWS captured the lobo because he failed to catch the attention of the Bluestem Pack’s alpha female. Shortly after his release, M1133 headed east crossing the state border into New Mexico. When it became clear to USFWS that he was heading increasingly further away from all wild lobos (likely in search for a mate) it was decided that the genetically valuable wolf can better contribute to the recovery of this rare species by being introduced to a mate in captivity. M1133 was then paired with a wild-born female at USFWS’ captive breeding center and released again that spring with his new mate F1108. Sadly, the energetic lobo again trekked great distances out of the Mexican wolf recovery area tofind himself in poor habitat, and surrounded by human settlements, major roadways, and very little natural prey. Consequently, M1133 was brought back to captivity.
Although we wish the captive-born lobo could have remained in the wild, he receives the best care with us and his story contributes to our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of his endangered kin and the challenges of recovery on the wild landscape. Happy birthday, Lobo!