MEXICAN WOLF INFO
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Captive Mexican wolf at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
C. l. baileyi
Canis lupus baileyi
Mexican wolf range
The Mexican wolf is the smallest gray wolf subspecies present in
North America. Reaching an overall length no greater than 1.2–1.5 metres
(3.9–4.9 ft) and a maximum height of about 80 centimetres (31 in), it
is around the size of a German Shepherd. Weight ranges from 27–37 kilograms (60–82 lb). In stature, it resembles some European wolves, though its head is usually broader, its neck thicker, its ears longer and its tail shorter.
Illustration of a Mexican wolf
The Mexican wolf was described by both naturalists Hernández and Fernandez and is named for Vernon Bailey,
an American naturalist and specialist in mammalogy who participated in
the Biological Survey of Texas during the late 19th century.
Former range and extirpation
Until recent times, the Mexican wolf ranged the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from central Mexico to western Texas, southern New Mexico, and central Arizona. (Recent studies completed by genetics experts show evidence of Mexican wolves ranging as far north as Colorado). By the turn of the 20th century, reduction of natural prey like deer and elk caused many wolves to begin attacking domestic livestock,
which led to intensive efforts by government agencies and individuals
to eradicate the Mexican wolf. Hunters also hunted down the wolf because
it killed deer.
Trappers and private trappers have also helped in the eradication of
the Mexican wolf. These efforts were very successful, and by the 1950s,
the Mexican wolf had been eliminated from the wild. In 1976, the Mexican
wolf was declared an endangered subspecies and has remained so ever
since. Today, an estimated 340 Mexican wolves survive in 49 facilities
in the United States and Mexico.
Reintroduction to the Southwest
In 1997, controversy arose when a mostly captive pack at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
designated for release was found by Roy McBride, who had captured many
wolves for the recovery program in the 1970s, to be largely composed of wolf-dog hybrids.
Though staff initially argued that the animals' odd appearance was due
to captivity and diet, it was later decided to euthanise them. Plans to reintroduce the Mexican wolf to Big Bend National Park, which was another site under consideration, have been rejected in the late 1980s by the State of Texas. On March 30, 1998, government biologists released 11 gray wolves – 3
adult males, 3 adult females, 3 female pups and yearlings and 2 male
pups — from 3 chain-link acclimation pens within the 18,130 square
kilometres (7,000 sq mi), federally designated Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in east-central Arizona.
A population count completed by the Interagency Field Team (IFT) in
the winter of 2006–2007 estimated 60 wolves living in the recovery area
in several packs.
The population goal for 2006 was 100 wolves. In early 2011 there were
only two breeding pairs and the population count was 50, up from 42 in
the early 2010 count. As of February 2012, the number of breeding pairs
rose to six, with a total population count of 58, including 32 wolves in
six packs on the Arizona side of the recovery area and 26 wolves in six
packs on the New Mexico side. There were 18 pups born in 2011 that
survived through Dec. 31, 2011. Nine wolves died in 2011; two were shot
In February 2010, three captive Mexican wolves living in the Wildlife
Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota, escaped from their pen after
it was pried open by unknown individuals. Two of the wolves came back on
their own the next day; the third wolf, the alpha of the pack, had to
be chased down in suburban areas until captured.
Captive breeding programs
There are 47 Mexican wolf breeding facilities in United States and Mexico with the largest in the world being the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center near Eureka, Missouri, which was founded in 1971 by naturalist Marlin Perkins.