Conservation Wildlife Management

Mexican Wolf Captured Outside Recovery Zone to Be Relocated

New Mexican wildlife officials captured the wolf north of Interstate 40. They plan to pair the female wolf with a male and relocate them to Mexico
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Mexican wolf captured outside recovery zone
A wolf runs around at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility, where f2754 is currently being held. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish captured a female Mexican wolf that strayed out of the recovery zone and traveled north of Interstate 40, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on Jan. 23. The Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Recovery Area (MWEPA) spans southern New Mexico and Arizona. The east-west interstate marks the northern boundary.

On Jan. 22, under the FWS’ authorization, NMDGF officials found and captured female Mexican wolf f2754 using a helicopter. The wolf had wandered north on Jan. 2, ending up in a region where no other Mexican gray wolves were known to be present. After roughly a week, she didn’t show any indication of returning to the MWEPA. Since breeding season was upcoming, wildlife officials were concerned the wolf might attempt to breed with domestic dogs in the area.

According to the recovery permit, “Authorized Permittees may capture and at the direction and discretion of the USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, return to the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, or transfer to captivity or Mexico, any Mexican wolves that have dispersed from the experimental population and that establish wholly outside of the MWEPA in Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas.” 

F2754 is currently being held at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico until officials relocate her. They plan to pair her with a male wolf and relocate them to Mexico later in the year.

“These wolves are genetically redundant in the MWEPA and provide more value to the Mexico population,” the press release reads.

Read Next: Mexico Releases Four More Wolves into the Wild

Mexican wolves, also known as lobos, were practically wiped out of the southwestern U.S. by the 1970s due to livestock conflicts. The species received endangered species status in 1976. Twenty two years later, FWS released captive-bred wolves into what is now the MWEPA. Currently, the MWEPA holds an estimated 196 wolves, while a separate population in Mexico has an estimated 37.

Animal advocacy organizations are protesting the agency’s plans to relocate the wolf to Mexico.

“Wolves dispersing throughout their historic range and suitable habitat is so important for restoring the lobo in a meaningful, scientific way,” WildEarth Guardians southwest wildlife advocate Chris Smith said in a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. “Removing wolves that roam is totally antithetical to their recovery. Leave her be.”