ALBUQUERQUE — Wildlife managers in the United States say their Mexican counterparts have released two pairs of endangered Mexican gray wolves south of the U.S. border as part of an ongoing reintroduction effort.
The wolf population in Mexico now numbers about 45, with 14 litters born since 2014, officials said.
“Thanks to international cooperation, recovery efforts are progressing in Mexico and contradict the assertion by some critics that recovery cannot happen in this country,” said Jim deVos, Mexican wolf coordinator for the Department of Gaming. and Arizona Fisheries, in a statement.
The US reintroduction program has been operating in New Mexico and Arizona for more than two decades. The most recent tally in early 2021 showed at least 186 wolves in the wild in the two states, marking a 14% increase from the previous year and a doubling of the population over the past five years. .
The results of a new survey of the American population are expected soon.
Agencies from the United States and Mexico’s National Commission for Natural Protected Areas have been working for years to help the species recover.
The Mexican gray wolf is the rarest gray wolf subspecies in North America and was listed as endangered in the United States in 1976.
The wolf was once common in parts of the southwestern United States and the western and eastern Sierra Madre regions of Mexico, but had been virtually eliminated from the wild by the 1970s due to extensive predator control initiatives .
Officials said the Mexican commission along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife managers were in final negotiations for a letter of intent to strengthen the program. It will include efforts focused on conflict with livestock where predators are reintroduced.
Ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico have criticized reintroduction efforts because wolves are known to kill livestock, but conservationists have pushed for the release of more captive wolves into the wild.
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