Mexican Gray Wolf – The Wild Reborn
Twenty years ago today, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time in Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. Twenty years ago this month, 11 captive bred lobos were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 114 individuals – an increase of just one from 113 counted at the end of 2016.
For almost two decades, the Wolf Conservation Center has played a critical role in preserving and protecting these imperiled predators through carefully managed breeding, research, and reintroduction. To date, the WCC remains one of the three largest holding facilities for Mexican gray wolves and three wolves from the Center have been released to their ancestral homes in the wild. Furthermore, this season promises to be an especially exciting one with three potential Mexican wolf pup litters this April or May! Beyond being adorable, these pups will represent the WCC’s active participation to save species on the brink of extinction.
We hope you enjoy the Wolf Conservation Center’s story of the Mexican Wolf as we carry out the work of their recovery.