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Seven Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Found Dead, Resulting in 25 Killed in 2021

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) announced in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Quarterly Update that seven endangered Mexican gray wolves were found dead in Arizona and New Mexico in the fourth quarter of 2021. The incidents are under investigation. This brings the total number of Mexican wolves found dead in 2021 to 25 wolves.

The dead wolves include a juvenile female from the Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) pack, an adult female from the Wagontongue pack, an adult male from the Tsay-O-Ah pack, three wolves from the Castle Rock pack, and a male pup from the Prime Canyon pack. Necropsy results from the male pup from Prime Canyon, mp2692, indicated the presence of canine distemper.

Two wolf packs in New Mexico, Blue Canyon and Leon, were confirmed to have den failure, meaning any pups did not survive.

The fourth quarter updates, sorted by region and wolf pack:

Mexican Gray Wolf Packs in Arizona. Credit: AZGFD
Mexican Gray Wolf Packs in the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR). Credit: AZGFD
Mexican Gray Wolf Packs in New Mexico. Credit: AZGFD

The Threat of Poaching to Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery

Poaching causes the deaths of more Mexican gray wolves than any other cause, with 105 wolves known to have been killed unlawfully between 1998, when reintroduction to Arizona and New Mexico began, and 2019. A similar number of radio-collared wolves disappeared, many under suspicious circumstances, during this same span.

Recent research lead by Dr. Adrian Treves indicates that poaching of wolves tends to increase when government protections are relaxed, such as when Mexican wolves are killed or removed from the wild in order to protect livestock. Many of these deaths are concealed (“cryptic poaching”) so federal agencies are unable to confirm a cause of death – thus forcing them to declare these wolves “lost-to-follow-up” or fate unknown.


The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. With just a single population in the United States numbering 186 wolves, numerous threats, including widespread illegal killing and genetic decline, menace the fragile population.