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The Mexican gray wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf, commonly referred to as “el lobo”.

Though they once numbered in the thousands, these wolves were wiped out in the U.S. by the mid-1970s, with just a handful existing in zoos. In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, led by Jamie Rappaport Clark (now president of Defenders of Wildlife), released 11 Mexican gray wolves back into the wild in Arizona.

Although their numbers have grown slowly, they remain the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world because of compromised genetics, human intolerance and reluctance to release more individuals and bonded pairs to the wild.

Defenders' Impact

As the population slowly recovers, Defenders continues to support scientists and policymakers to find the best path forward, including supporting adult releases and cross-fostering of pups. We also sponsored a Mexican biologist to come to the U.S. to gain experience working with the recovery team to support wolves in Mexico.

Defenders works directly with ranchers and tribal members to implement proven techniques to keep wolves and livestock safe. These include using range riders to watch over livestock, moving livestock away from wolf dens, erecting special fencing and more.

Threats

Humans pose the greatest threat because of intolerance and misconceptions about wolves. The genetic diversity of the species also needs careful monitoring and improvement because inbreeding is a serious threat in the wild.

Protection Status
Endangered Species Act
 Endangered
What You Can Do

Help us spread positive information about Mexican gray wolves and wolves in general. Speak up for wolves and the continued support of endangered species protections, like the Endangered Species Act.

Facts
Latin Name
Canis lupus baileyi
Size
60-80 pounds with males typically heavier and taller than females
Lifespan
Up to 15 years in captivity, but 6-8 years in the wild.
Range/Habitat

Mexican gray wolves once ranged widely from central Mexico throughout the southwestern U.S. including Utah, Colorado and Texas. Today, they can be found only in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Mexican gray wolves are also being reintroduced in Mexico. They prefer mountain forests, grasslands and scrublands.

Population

In 2018 there were 131 individual wolves and 32 packs of two or more animals in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Behavior

Mexican gray wolves are very social animals. They live in packs, which are complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack help it to work as a unit.

Reproduction

Packs care for the pups until they mature at about 10 months of age.

Mating Season: Mid-February to mid-March

Gestation: 63 days

Litter size: 4-7 pups

Diet

Mexican gray wolves mostly eat ungulates (large hoofed mammals) like elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer. They are also known to eat smaller mammals like javelinas, rabbits, ground squirrels and mice.

News

Albuquerque, N.M.

New Mexico State Game Commission Votes to Rejoin Wolf Recovery Program

The New Mexico State Game Commission voted today to rejoin the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.

Mexican Gray Wolf Blog Posts