Mexico to place 5 wolves near AZ


This story appeared last week while I was gone and there was a little discussion about it on the open thread but I think it deserves its own thread.

The significance of this story is not so much that wolves are being released into the wild but that it is happening in Mexico close to the border and that if any of these wolves or their progeny enter into the U.S. they will have full protection under the Endangered Species Act and cannot be legally killed even if they are preying on livestock.

This would have significant implications for the floundering Mexican wolf recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico which announced that there are only 42 wolves in the wild, down from the 52 last year. These wolves are considered an experimental, non-essential population.

One of the main hinderances of the current recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico is that there are arbitrary boundaries inside which the wolves must stay. Wolves reintroduced into Mexico would not have these boundaries because they wouldn’t be considered an experimental, non-essential population under the Endangered Species Act.

Mexico to place 5 wolves near AZ
Tim Steller – Arizona Daily Star


  1. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    The whining of the livestock folks has gotten pathetic when they claim the Mexico reintroduction is “an end around” tactic. They are unhappy and can’t do anything about it. Too bad.

    This whole recovery plan needs to be scrapped and redone without the artificial borders that constrain wolf migration. Hopefully sooner than later.


  2. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    This is great news. HOWEVER, I can see some of the folks in Catron County will say that this action makes the experimental, non-essential Mexican Wolves non-essential.
    Unless they start seriously impose heavy fines and prison sentences on the local poachers I’m not so sure this helps the US population of Mexican Wolves.
    Again, I’m all for it. i’m for anything that gets more Mexican Wolves out of captivity and into the wild be it the Blue Range, Sky Islands, Grand Canyon, Big Bend or the Guadeloupe Mtns. The feds need to get serious about law enforcement.

  3. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    I should have included this with my post above. How convoluted are the comments to the story have wolf dispersal tied to the illegal immigrant issue? Great logic at work!

  4. Maska Avatar

    Chris, I agree about the need to put more resources into law enforcement, but equally important (possibly even more important) is for FWS to convene a new recovery team a.s.a.p. to craft a scientifically up-to-date recovery plan to replace the one written in 1982 on a typewriter! The current plan lacks several of the legal requirements of a recovery plan, such as a complete absence of criteria for delisting the Mexican gray wolf.

    In addition, the Service must put more wolves out quickly–wolves that are carefully selected to enhance the genetic diversity of the wild population.

  5. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    In a related topic I just looked at the w/o 2/15 flight tracking survey and in NM, where the 2009 year end wolf population was 15, the collared animals accounted for in the weekly flight were 13 wolves. Meaning that during the year end 2009 survey only 2 uncollared wolves were counted in NM. As Maska said, we need more wolves on the ground pronto.

  6. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    I know Bud Fazio from his days as head of the wolf program in North Carolina. We have kept in touch and he is the man for the job. I have every confidence that he will turn this flailing program around!

  7. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    I agree they need a new recovery plan, it would be really great if they stuck to it! If you want or need my e-mail I believe Ralph has it and he can give it to you. It would be nice to see some wolves this summer. I thinking of a trip to AZ-NM.

  8. Nature rules Avatar
    Nature rules

    I agree they need a new recovery plan, it would be really great if they stuck to it! If you want or need my e-mail I believe Ralph has it and he can give it to you. It would be nice to see some wolves this summer. I thinking of a trip to AZ-NM.


    good luck to you, I live in AZ and have gone for 5 years now to the blue ridge/white mtns areas camping to see or hear wolves. Nada….there are not that many here, and unless you have a month or so to try and track one, or work for WLS and have a collar tracker, it is almost impossible to see them. I have spoken with many folks that live and work in those areas all their lives, and they have maybe seen one in passing once or twice. Even the forest service when I called said it is very slim chance even if I went where the maps say they are, that I would see them. In AZ there is not that many. Not to discourage you, but AZ is not like the Idaho, WY, and Mt, where they are spotted all the time. If you do mange to see them when here, post up so I can come running!!!! Just don’t come with high expectations, cause you may be disappointed…

  9. Nature rules Avatar
    Nature rules

    I give the 5 wolves they release 6 mo-1year before they are dead, for one reason or another, why not try releasing 50? they might have a better recovery chance then. Poachers, or the other wolf packs they may run into may kill them off themselves…

  10. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    Nature Rules,
    I lived in N. Arizona for a while, so if I don’t see them that’s O.K. – it’s generally beautiful country in the Blue Range. I agree with you that the Mexicans would be better served putting a few more on the ground but perhaps not fifty. If say 5 – 15 don’t survive that genetic loss would not be so bad and there would be a chance to see what went wrong and perhaps fix it before releasing more – or not.

  11. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I also agree that more should be placed. Think how much people are going to be pitching the border fence now.

    Said Schneberger: “It (a wolf) can walk through downtown Deming, and nobody will be able to touch it. It’s not a good thing to list a predator as fully endangered.”

    I guess the little Mexican wolves are also going to descend onto towns and start pillaging like the giant Canadians?

    1. sam Avatar

      Pillaging? Excuse me. You’re talking about an animal who do not prey on people , not even when they are cruelly stalked from lowflying aircrafts. Please think before you speak, because these animals were here before you, and are a viable part of the earth’s eco systems. Do not continue to humiliate yourself online with biased arguments and retorts. Please do your homework, and see the grave disadvantage of not caring more for this important facet of God’s creation. Extinction is a serious issue, a VERY serious issue, and there is no time for playing around, nor swaying people toward a position of lethargy and non action.

  12. cc Avatar

    I seriously doubt Mexico is planning to reintroduce just 5 wolves and then walk away. It is likely just a start or trial run and based on currently available wolves and the human/monetary resources to track them.

  13. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I hope you’re right on that cc. That would be great to see another population of lobos.

  14. mikepost Avatar

    What makes anyone think that Mexican stock growers will be any more tolerant of wolves than their US peers? Add to that the almost total breakdown of law and order in that area and you can bet no one is going to jail for poaching a wolf and probably won’t even have to sneak around to do it.

  15. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    my thoughts exactly.

  16. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Mexico has done some good things with their jaguar populations, ranchers are ranchers regardless of where they are from. Not all ranchers are bad, there are some that are cooperating with US officials in AZ NM> Unfortunately there are some like the Adobe-Slash ranch that baited wolves with newborn calves to obtain the 3 strikes rule, there should be stronger penalties to deter this type of behavior, otherwise wolves will not stand a chance! The rancher at Adobe- Slash should have had the grazing permit rovoked immediately!

  17. bryantolsen Avatar

    Lets remember that wolves and Grizzly Bears survived much longer in norther Mexico, in to the 70’s, than they did anywhere else in the southwest. And even then it was Americans that came down and killed the last ones. Also they do have Jaguars,which gives some testament to their tolerance. I think people in Mexico have more of let it be attitude. Yes they will kill them if they attack their stock, but they wont go out a try and kill every last one. This would be a great population of wolves to have. I hope they take.

  18. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I would like to see small groups of wolves released here and there on both sides of the border. If some of the groups prosper, then more should be released in that area. Dumping large numbers of Mexican wolves on the Arizona/New Mexico border is not working well and other approaches should be considered.

  19. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Larry, I agree with you on that one. I think some grizzlies would be good as well. I still say the Grand Canyon could use some wolves as well and so could southern Colorado. Those were likely lobos as well.

  20. Matt Avatar

    Interesting and somewhat good news but why only five wolves ? seems like a small odd number for a re -introduction. If half or most don’t make it, which is certainly possible , then it will hamper future efforts. Atleast 12 or two dozen sounds more appropriate to give them a chance. As far as Arizona and New Mexico, they should jtry and pump more wolves into the area, swell the population up to atleast 100 or 150. Now is the time with the current adminisration in office. Just an opinion.

  21. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Just out pf curiosity has anyone seen anything that states why there are only 5 wolves being restored? Also, in one of the posts it mentioned Mexican President Felipe Calderon wanting five species restored. What are the other four?


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole