Mexican Wolf Update 2023
This Year Is 25th Anniversary
December 1, 2023
A binational captive breeding program was initiated to save the Mexican wolf from extinction.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the wild in the U.S. Once occurring throughout parts of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican wolf had all but disappeared by 1970. In 1976, this gray wolf subspecies was listed as endangered, and a binational captive breeding program was initiated to save it from extinction.
In 1998, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department and other conservation partners released the first 11 captive Mexican wolves into the wild in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona and New Mexico. With the birth of the first wild-born litter from a wild-born parent in 2002, the Mexican Wolf reintroduction project entered into a new phase, whereby natural reproduction began to replace the need to release captive-reared wolves. Proven techniques such as fostering are injecting new genetics into the population.
Since 1998, the wild population has grown from zero in 1998 to a minimum of 242 Mexican wolves in 2022, with about 60 known packs documented. There is still work to do, but for a subspecies once extirpated from the U.S., the revival of the Mexican wolf has thus far been a remarkable comeback story.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has always advocated for a balanced approach to Mexican wolf recovery, taking into account the department's conservation mission as well as the needs of people who live, work and recreate on the landscape.
The Mexican Wolf Recovery Program is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Wildlife Services), White Mountain Apache Tribe, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the National Park Service (NPS).