Total jumps to 58-

After years of slow decline from a not very high level, finally in 2011 there was some good news for the beleaguered Mexican wolf restoration in Arizona/New Mexico. There appears to have been a 16% increase from 50 to 58 wolves in the wild. There are 12 packs and 6 breeding pairs. It appears that at least 18 pups were born in 2011.  These more than offset 8 wolves that were found dead. The wolf program managers had one additional wolf killed because of “concern about safety.” Oddly, one wolf died when struck by lightning!

Unfortunately the release of more captive Mexican wolves is on hold. Arizona Fish and Game will only release them on a “case-by-case” basis, and New Mexico elected a tea party governor and withdrew from the program.  Genetic diversity of the wolves is very low and more genes are needed.

The minimum goal for recovery is 100 Mexican wolves. Initially it was believed this number would be reached quickly. Opposition from ranchers and hysteria over this restoration of this smallish wolf has hampered the program from the start.  Because no wild Mexican wolves were left in the world, they did not have the learned ability to take down prey like the grey wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies states.  They had to learn from scratch.

Here is one recent story in the news media. Wolf Census Up 16 Percent. By Rene Romo. ABQ Journal South Reporter



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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

4 Responses to Mexican wolf population finally begins to grow again

  1. Maska says:

    “…they did not have the learned ability to take down prey like the grey wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies states.”

    One of the first three pairs of lobos released into the wild–Hawk’s Nest–took down an elk in Beaver Creek in AZ only two weeks after their release from the acclimation pen in 1998. The reintroduced wolves have pretty consistently been eating approximately 75% elk, with deer and small mammals making up most of the rest of their diet. The percentage of livestock in their diet has been in single digits. Failure to take down prey has not been a major issue, to judge from project annual reports.

    Low pup survival is a serious concern and may be related to inbreeding depression. New releases are needed to enhance genetic diversity. The USFWS has the authority to release wolves never previously in the wild into AZ and to release previously wild wolves that have been recaptured into both AZ and NM. What is needed is the political will to do so. The Service needs to stop allowing AZGFD to hold veto power over its actions.

    For those interested in delving into the annual reports, you can find the reports from 2001 through 2010 linked here:

  2. aves says:

    I couldn’t open the news link without subscribing. Here’s a likely similar article from USA Today:

  3. Steve Clevidence says:

    “Opposition from ranchers and hysteria over this restoration of this smallish wolf has hampered the program from the start”. Some folks need to be cautious not to let their hate over ride their common sense, otherwise its like wading through the quagmire of a smelly swamp, sinking to ones neck and finding nothing solid to hang on to. There are possibilities that can be favorable to both humans as well as predators and ungulates, its important to put hate aside, sit down together and rationally explore any solution that may help accomplish this.

    • mikarooni says:

      Do you have much experience with the people in the recovery area? In theory, your words ring true. In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice; unfortunately, in practice, there certainly is.

      A lady I know grew up in an old ranching family in SE AZ and moved to Silver City as a young adult. She got involved in conservation issues and was a volunteer in the public schools, bringing in nature samples (old wasps’ nests and a tamed bobcat and such) for show and tell events. She got involved in wolf restoration and arranged for a captive wolf to be brought in to show the kids and the newspaper in a neighboring town ran a front page photo of the front of her house, where she and her elementary school age daughter lived, and superimposed on the front door were the cross-hairs of a rifle scope.

      It’s nice to suggest that we all “sit down together and rationally explore any solution” and, in a perfect world, that would be a wise thing to do. But, it could be a bit dangerous to advise people who are not familiar with the situation down there to just go in and start chatting with those folks down there …at least not without a good suit of kevlar body armor.


February 2012


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey