Two Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Found Dead in New Mexico
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) announced in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update that two endangered Mexican gray wolves were found dead in New Mexico in June. The deaths are under investigation.
The wolves, a female and a male, were valuable members of the overall wild population of lobos. The female, nicknamed Matsi through a children’s naming contest (officially recorded as F1685), lived as part of the Datil Mountain Pack; she was its last surviving member. Her mate Bosque (M1453) was found dead in January 2019.
The juvenile male, nicknamed Mato (m1846), belonged to the Prieto Pack. He was found dead after dispersing across a large swath of the Gila National Forest. His journey from his natal home could have been a result of the death of his family members in March; the Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the killing of two Prieto Pack members on behalf of the livestock industry. Usually, a dispersing wolf is searching for a mate, unoccupied territory, and sufficient food to survive. It will sometimes travel hundreds of miles from where it was born because everything in its nature tells it to belong to something greater than itself – a family.
At last count, the wild Mexican gray wolf population in the U.S. was estimated to be 163 individuals. There have been 14 documented wolf deaths this year. The federal government has also killed several wolves on behalf of the livestock industry.
Mexican gray wolves are the most genetically distinct lineage of gray 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. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act.