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Mexican Wolf Canis lupus baileyi


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Mexican Wolf
credit: Brian.gratwicke /CCSA

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Alternate name: Lobo

Family: Canidae, Dogs view all from this family

Description The smallest of the Gray Wolf populations. Usually a combination of grizzled gray, tan, and/or rust above and paler below. Long, bushy tail with black tip. Long legs. Male larger than female.

Dimensions Ht 26-32" (66-82 cm); L 4'3"-5'6" (130-167 cm); T 14" (36 cm); HF 9" (23 cm); Wt 50-90 lb (23-41 kg).

Endangered Status The Mexican Wolf, a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, is considered extinct in the United States and highly endangered in Mexico. Along with other Gray Wolf populations, the Mexican Wolf had to adapt to drastic changes to its ecosystems wrought by the westward expansion of the 1800s. Much of its prey, including deer and Elk, was eliminated as large-scale ranches were installed throughout the West, and it turned to livestock for sustenance. The backlash was severe, and wolves were hunted, trapped, and poisoned nearly to extinction. By the time Gray Wolves came under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, there were only a few hundred individuals left in northern Minnesota and only a handful of Mexican Wolves remained. Recovery programs have involved educating the public about wolves, restoring habitat and prey species, introducing wolves into various areas, and in some places compensating ranchers for livestock killed by wolves. A joint Mexican-American Mexican Wolf recovery program began in 1977 with the capture of five wolves from the wild and a subsequent captive-breeding program. More than 200 Mexican Wolves have been bred in captivity. The plan calls for establishing a population of 100 wolves in Arizona's Apache National Forest and New Mexico's adjoining Gila National Forest (known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area), and possibly farther east in an area called the White Sands Wolf Recovery Area. Starting in 1997, several dozen captive-bred Mexican Wolves have been released in the Blue Range. There are currently eight free-ranging wolf packs in the Blue Range, and all have bred successfully in the wild. Sadly, fear of wolves still runs high among human populations, and a number of the wild Mexican Wolves have been shot and killed.

Similar Species Coyote is much smaller, holds tail at downward angle. Wolf carries tail straight out. Domestic dog's tail curves upward.

Breeding Mates February-March; 1 litter of 1-6 young born April-June, after gestation of 63 days.

Habitat Mainly mountain woodlands and scrub.

Range Once found from western Texas, central New Mexico, and east-central Arizona south into Mexico. Currently, introduced individuals in Arizona, and possibly some in the wild still in Mexico (Sierra Madre).

Discussion The smallest subspecies of the Gray Wolf, the Mexican Wolf is also said to be the most genetically distinct. Like its more northerly counterparts, it lives in extended family units and hunts in cooperative packs. In addition to deer and Elk, these wolves eat Collared Peccaries (Javelinas) and jackrabbits.