The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revealed that at least 163 Mexican gray wolves survive in the wilds of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The annual count shows an increase of 32 individuals since last year’s total documented count of 131. The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team deployed in January and found 76 wolves in Arizona and 87 in New Mexico.
This increase marks a step in the right direction, away from extinction and toward recovery – despite many challenges. The fact that lobos are doing as well as they are comes in spite of inadequate and even hostile action from the agencies tasked with their recovery, a border wall blocking gene exchange with their relatives in Mexico, and archaic trapping rules in New Mexico that risk injury and death to wolves every trapping season.
“Lobos are showing that they belong in this region—that they are resilient in spite of mismanagement and hostility,” said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Just think what their recovery might look like if we removed some of the obstacles that are put in front of them, like leghold traps on New Mexico public lands.”
Read the press release.