Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Day of Celebration and Remembrance in Honor of Some Special Lobos from Minnesota

Mexican gray wolf F837
Today Mexican gray wolf F837 turns 8 years old! The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) was first introduced to F837 in November of 2004 when she and her three sisters were transferred from the Minnesota Zooogical Garden to the WCC as yearlings. Our Center was selected to care for these wolves as a participant in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP). We had the enclosure space available and the luxury of allowing them to reside off exhibit in a natural environment with minimal human contact. Although the wolves are identified by alphanumeric labels - F836, F837, F838, and F839, we called the sisters “the Minnesota Girls."

When the Minnesota Girls arrived, we were relatively new to the MWSSP program and were honored to be a part of the recovery effort. Less than a year later and with much jubilation we received the most exciting news: F838 (pictured) was chosen for release to the wild Southwest!  What a trill to offer her a life without boundaries and fence-lines, and the task of bringing an ecosystem back to balance.


We transferred the two-year-old to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pre-release facility at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico where she was paired with a mate - Mexican gray wolf M806.

The following spring the wolves proved fruitful adding two pups to the limited Mexican wolf population - a boy and a girl (female pup f1028 at 12 weeks old pictured).


The family, dubbed the Meridian Pack, was placed in a temporary mesh holding pen in eastern Arizona on July 6, 2006 and they eagerly freed themselves within twenty-four hours.

Just a few months after her adventure had begun, we received the dreadful news that F838 was dead--illegally killed. Three years later, F836 was granted a life in the wild only to suffer the same fate as her littermate. Each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild. But a few months in the wild was the biggest gift we could have ever given to the girls from Minnesota. If not for some heartless criminals, they could have survived and contributed to the recovery of their species.

As we celebrate the birthday of F837, it's also a day to remember her fallen sisters.  The deaths of the Minnesota Girls weigh heavy on our hearts, but our commitment to our mission and the recovery of Mexican gray wolves in the wild remains strong. While tragic, these shootings strengthen our resolve to restore these majestic creatures to their ancestral home in the wilds of the Southwest.

F837 currently lives in the WCC's Lobo Exhibit with eight-year-old M805 and together they help visitors better understand the importance of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and the significance of the special wolves on our property that people are not allowed to behold. The two lobos have bonded with one another nicely and they share something in common - each have a littermate who was given the gift of freedom five years ago this July.  M805's brother, Mexican wolf M806, was "Minnesota Girl" F838's original mate!  After F838's tragic death, M806 started a new family called the Bluestem Pack and has been thriving in the wild as the alpha male ever since.

For more resources about the Mexican gray wolf and what you can do to assist in their recovery, please visit Mexicanwolves.org

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