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The Little-Known Life of Mexican Gray Wolf Lighthawk

Mexican gray wolves Trumpet (L) and Lighthawk (R)

At first glance, Mexican gray wolf Lighthawk (M1564) seems like every other wolf residing in the Wolf Conservation Center’s Endangered Species facility: elusive, endangered, essential. But the shy male has experienced something only very few lobos have – the wild.

Born around April 15th, 2015, M1564 spent most of his young life roaming the vast terrain of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests as a member of the Hawks Nest Pack but his life as a wild lobo came to a devastating end when he was removed from the wild in the fall of 2016 for attacking livestock. The elusive male was then flown to the WCC in 2017 via a series of private flights from the volunteer aviation organization Lighthawk (hence his honorary name) and introduced to a spacious enclosure, where he now resides with Mexican wolf Trumpet and their six kids.

While we are privileged to have the important task of caring for Lighthawk and his critically endangered family, we grieve for the wild life he lost in 2016. He can no longer call the vast expanse of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest home but in a satisfying twist of events, his daughter can; Lighthawk’s daughter Hope was cross-fostered into the wild Saffel Pack.

On May 9, the two-week-old pup was flown to Arizona and successfully placed in the den of the Saffel wild wolf pack, where the breeding female had recently given birth to her own litter. Cross-fostering is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter to be raised by surrogate parents. Hope is now a living, breathing component of the southwestern landscape.

Through her, Lighthawk’s wild legacy lives on.