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Mexican Wolf Population Doubles

PC: Jim Clark USFWS

Love it or hate it, the Mexican Gray Wolf continues to grow and be a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the states of Arizona and New Mexico. In a study spanning 2020 and 2021 thus far, an interagency team has accounted for a minimum of 163 wolves roaming the landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico, with 72 in Arizona and 114 in New Mexico. These are minimum numbers but even as such, they show the population has doubled in size over the last five years. 

Other interesting notes from 2020 include… 

  • There were a minimum of 46 packs (including new pairs) documented at the end of 2020: 29 in New Mexico and 17 in Arizona, plus five single wolves in Arizona. A wolf pack is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory. By comparison, there were a minimum of 42 packs at the end of 2019.
  • A minimum of 124 pups were born in 2020, with at least 64 surviving until the end of the year (a 52% survival rate). The average survival of Mexican wolf pups is around 50%.
  • The IFT recorded a minimum of 20 breeding pairs (12 in New Mexico, eight in Arizona) with pups in 2020.
  • There were 96 collared wolves in the wild at the end of the year, which is slightly more than 50% of the wild population. These radio collars use satellite technology to accurately record wolf locations on a frequent basis. Biologists on the IFT use this information to gain timely information about wolf behavior in the wild and assist with management of the wild population.
  • The IFT documented 29 mortalities in the wild population of Mexican wolves in 2020, which is similar to the mortality rate in 2019 given the growing population.
  • This year’s survey represents not only an all-time record number of wolves in the wild but also the most ever breeding pairs, wild packs, pups born in the wild, and pups surviving to the end of the year.

This is all well and good and while wildlife managers pat each other on the back, wolves are wolves and continue to spur debate across their range about the social desirability of having, maintaining and growing apex predators. Doubling Mexican wolf populations, while exciting to some people is at the same time deeply disturbing to others. 

While I don’t think there is an easy answer to the wolf conundrum I do think they are here to stay. The only question that remains is what that looks like for the future of ungulate game animals in the Southwest.

About Todd Helms

Todd Helms

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3 comments

  1. The dams were thought to be great ideas. They have destroyed every native fish and now the hatchery fish aren’t capable of survival either. Not a fish left in the Snake River. If that wasn’t enough they threw wolves into the picture and forced them to maintain them at all costs. Especially the use of helicopters the only way to hunt them. Tell AZ and NM f&w to invest into helicopters once they get into trouble for the first time and shot at this educates them, trust us.

    Liberals use feelings for their votes.

    Bringing a creature back that will kill us for its own survival and then eats our food all the while children starve is hypocrisy at its best.

    Wild game is far healthier so why haven’t these greenies figured that out and started down that path? I know it wasn’t their idea so it won’t work.

    Gunna have to play on their feelings and emotions to get what’s right. The Art Of Persuasion will help do this and then if you can actually be a snake oil salesman and prey on these people feelings and emotions to straighten it all back out is the moral or ethical choice that must be lived with.

  2. What a bunch of idiots ! Go look at the in depth analysis of Mexican Wolf historic range – it’s hard data – facts ! It’s out on the web u idiots !
    The fact is the “Canadian” grey Wolf is a super specie. The Wolf that existed in lower 48 west mountain region is 100% extinct. As the genius manage what naturally took place for 100’s of thousands of years it’s a joke and mess and flawed plan ! The Canadian Wolf will dominate pure fact ! The Mexican Wolf will be hybrid Canadian Mexican 100% in 20 years u dumb shits ! Look at east coast the Coyowolf example ! The dominant breed of canine rules ! Having a population of Mexican red wolves can only happen by keeping Greys out ! Throwing them in places like that crap hole Colorado will accelerate the demise of the red Wolf – who by the way did not ever exist in many areas they do now. Want a joke what a mess.
    Let’s introduce jackels in AZ now too makes as much sense !

  3. Robert W Hartley

    No mention of the ones in southern Colorado…

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