Four Mexican Gray Wolves Are Released Into The State Of Chihuahua, Mexico, Raising The Country’s Population Of The Endangered Species To 45

Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) recently released two pairs of endangered Mexican wolves in different areas in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, where they are expected to adapt and survive in their native environment.

Both pairs, called “Manada del Arroyo” and “Manada del Gavilan,” came from the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico.

CONANP’s efforts to recover this species are part of a collaboration of more than 40 years between Mexico and the United States, with the participation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF).

CONANP shared the news with the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a statement. As requested, Tom Cadden, Public Information Supervisor for the AZGFD, then emailed the CONANP statement to WAN.

“With these releases, CONANP reiterates its commitment to continue efforts to establish this subspecies that bears the name of our country,” stated the agency. “Therefore, these releases represent an important advance in the recovery efforts of the Mexican gray wolf.”

Mexico has now had 19 releases of Mexican wolves since 2011, bringing the total wild wolf population in Mexico to 45. In addition, there have been 14 litters born since 2014: one each in 2014, 2015 and 2016; two each in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020; and three in 2021.

In the U.S., the end-of-year census for 2020 showed a population of at least 186 Mexican wolves in the wild; 72 in Arizona and 114 in New Mexico. This was a 14% increase in the population from the 2019 end-of-year census and showed a doubling of the U.S. Mexican wolf population over the last five years.

“AZGFD’s contention has always been that Mexico is an important component of Mexican wolf recovery,” said Jim DeVos, Mexican wolf coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “These efforts show that through international cooperation, recovery efforts are moving forward in Mexico and contradict the contention of some critics that recovery can’t occur in that country.”

The Mexican wolf is the most genetically distinct subspecies of the gray wolf, and the world’s most endangered population of wolves. Their average weight is only 73 pounds for males and 59 pounds for females, reaching just 31.5 inches at the withers.

This subspecies of gray wolf was at one time distributed from the southwestern U.S. into the Sierras Madre Occidental and Oriental, reaching Central Mexico, with some believing its range was as far as Oaxaca. Their extinction was caused by intensive eradication campaigns by government agencies, both in the U.S. and Mexico, mainly due to the misunderstanding of the importance of the wolf’s presence in healthy ecosystems.

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