Featured Endangered Wildlife Species

by Steve Zachar (VM16)

Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Similar in size to a German Shepherd Dog, the Mexican gray wolf is the smallest wolf subspecies, as well as the most critically endangered wolf species in the world. They are currently listed as Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. Due to government-mandated predator removal efforts in the mid-1900s, as well as a reduction of natural prey species, the Mexican wolf completely disappeared from the wild by the late 1970s. The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan began with just seven individuals in 1978, and it was not until 1998 that 50 captive-bred wolves were released into protected wilderness areas in New Mexico and Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) annual year-end survey reported 75 Mexican wolves in the wild, a 17 wolf increase from the previous year. The FWS will maintain protection of the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest while expanding recovery efforts. With continued success of captive breeding programs and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection, the FWS is hopeful that Mexican gray wolf numbers will rebound as well as their Gray wolf cousins, whose population has gone from near extinction in the U.S. to several thousand over the past several decades.

Mexican Gray Wolf, © Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For more information on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, visit: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/

References:

1. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Service Proposes to Return Management and Protection of Gray Wolves to State Wildlife Professionals Following Successful Recovery Efforts. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7 June 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/pdf/NR_wolf_press_release.pdf>.

2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolf Recovery in North America. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, January 2007. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.  <http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2007/gray_wolf_factsheet-region2.pdf>.

3. “Basic Facts About Mexican Gray Wolves.” Mexican Gray Wolf. Defenders of Wildlife, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013 <http://www.defenders.org/mexican-gray-wolf/basic-facts>.

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