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Mexican Gray Wolf F749 Has Stillborn Pup

Mexican wolf F749 in her den during labor

It’s with heavy hearts that we report that Mexican gray wolf F749 gave birth to a single pup yesterday afternoon and the pup was stillborn.  She went into labor on Thursday afternoon and Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff monitored her progress through the evening and overnight via an internal webcam stationed in her den.  Early this morning, F749 emerged from her den for the first time in over 18 hours leaving her stillborn pup behind.  The pup was female. A few hours later WCC staff confirmed the pup’s condition, and removed the pup in hopes that a necropsy (an autopsy performed on animals) will reveal why her pups were unable to survive.  In late March, an ultrasound on F749 confirmed that she was at the time carrying at least 4 pups, all with strong heartbeats.

The Mexican gray wolf or “lobo” is America’s most endangered gray wolf. At last count only 83 remained in the wild and over 250 lobos live in captivity. The captive lobo population is currently hosted by a network of organizations in both the United States and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP). A Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a breeding and management program designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. The primary goal for the MWSSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into both the United States and Mexico.

In order to maintain genetic diversity within the Mexican wolf population, the MWSSP management group determines which captive lobos will be permitted to breed by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Wolf unions are chosen based on the genetic “value” of the individuals and the benefits their potential offspring would contribute to the diversity of their rare species. The ideal pairings have the lowest inbreeding coefficient and produce offspring that will best enhance the wild lobo gene pool. Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing all wolf pairings.

Mexican wolf F749 is among twelve lobos who reside off-exhibit at the WCC and she is the most genetically valuable individual in the program. She’s one of the most prolific wolves in the MWSSP as well. Sadly, F749 has lost several litters in her 12 years, and the causes remain unknown. When left in her care, only 2 of her last 19 pups have survived. While the cause of this most recent stillbirth is also unknown, we hope that a necropsy will reveal some information that can help guide breeding selections for the MWSSP in the future.

Although F749 and her doting mate, M804, live off exhibit at the WCC, we help raise awareness for these critically endangered wolves and our efforts to recover them via live webcams.

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12 Responses to Mexican Gray Wolf F749 Has Stillborn Pup

  1. Jeanne torma says:

    Thanks to all who are working towards maintaining this breed.

  2. ria van schaijk says:

    Can you please tell me, what happened with the other 3 pups. mama was carrying 4 pups at late march. Now a single pup was stillborn. I watched the webcam many days and I m very sad and in tears. Mama is not in danger? are the other pups out of her body? Sorry if my english is not so good, I live in belgium europe. I hope that mama and papa will get new healthy pups in the future.

  3. Dorniece Stephen says:

    every living thing deserves a name, Not some number like some inanimate thing. My heart and prayers go out to her for I know she is in a bad place right now

  4. So very, very sorry to hear the sad news. Sending lots of positive thoughts and a hope that all the beautiful wolves will someday have names <3

  5. Matthew Young says:

    Just wanted to send my condolences to all furry and un-furry creatures at the Wolf Conservation Center for this devastating and heartbreaking loss. This is not only your loss, but it’s effects hit me personally, and will be felt throughout this crazy country of ours. You guys do Yom-ins work. And I thank god you are here to do it. I am a fairly active participant. Love to you all,

    Matthew Young

    And please give Wolfy F749 a virtual kiss on the nose for me. :-)

  6. Shawn says:

    So sad about the pup. I was looking forward to a den of lively Red wolf puppies. Hope the necropsy provide so useful information. Giving F749 a giant hug.

  7. See what stress is doing to our wildlife?

  8. Shawn says:

    Any chance she had the other pups in another den ?

  9. Anthony Corvelli says:

    Heartbroken :(

  10. Maggie says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. As for the other pups (an ultrasound revealed she had at least 4 inside her in late March), there is a small possibility she did give birth to the rest of the litter and consumed them but it is more likely that they remained in her uterus and were reabsorbed. The good news is F749 is doing well, she and M804 find so much love and comfort with one another. We will continue to monitor her closely too.

    As for her “name,” wild wolves and wolves associated with a recovery program are often identified with alphanumeric names. The Mexican gray wolves and red wolves are both a part of federally run recovery programs. These two kinds of wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves. We choose to use her alphanumeric name to remind visitors, supporters, and staff that these critically endangered wolves are part of something much larger that the Wolf Conservation Center, they are essential to the recovery of their rare species. Also, I’m sure they have names that their pack-mates have given them, we humans are just not privy to them. Thanks again for you support everyone!

    Maggie Howell

  11. Diane Bolter says:

    Please accept my most heartfelt condolences at this extremely sorrowful time. Iam very touched by this horrific tragedy. I was expecting great, exciting and happy family news. I feel Mom and Dads pain and loss. Please give these darlins my love, hugs and kisses. Thank you.

  12. Elizabeth Goudge says:

    No wonder she had a still born or that her other pups did not survive. That poor she-wolf must be stressed with all that is going on at this time across the country with this extreme hatred of wolves and determination to exterminate them. They aren’t stupid. They have senses that we can only dream about.

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