Six Captive Mexican Wolf Newborns Released to the Wild
Mexican gray wolf pup born at the Wolf Conservation Center in 2018.
Six critically endangered Mexican gray wolf pups receive the call of the wild!
The pups, born at the Endangered Wolf Center in Missouri, were placed with two wild wolf families in an effort to increase the genetic diversity of the wild Mexican gray wolf population. Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing most recovery efforts.
The captive-to-wild release of newborn pups, an initiative called cross-fostering, is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter so the pups can grow up as wild wolves.
“This is amazing news,” stated Wolf Conservation Center Executive Director Maggie Howell. “Returning wolves to their ancestral home in the wild is our goal – the environment needs wolves.”
According to USFWS’s Initial Release and Translocation Proposal for 2019, the wild population’s mean kinship (MK) is approximately 0.25. This means that, on average, “individuals within the population are as related to one another as full siblings.”
“Cross-fostering can be an incredibly effective tool for augmenting the genetic health of the wild population,” explained Howell, “it proved successful in red wolf recovery efforts for over a decade.”
“While we applaud the agency’s dedication to cross-fostering, this should not be the only strategy relied upon to increase genetic diversity in the wild population,” stated Howell. ” Addressing the Mexican wolf’s genetic imperilment requires USFWS to resume releasing wolf family groups into the wild as well – the means by which reintroduction was initiated in 1998 and successfully undertaken until abandoned under political pressure in 2007.”
USFWS aims to cross-foster up to 12 pups from captivity in 2019.