Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Runaway Groom? Mexican Wolf's Wild Life Short-Lived

AZGFD photo
Last month we celebrated the first new Mexican wolf release in over 1500 days. Now we're counting his days in captivity before he gets a second chance -- 7 days.

M1133 was born in captivity in 2008 and lived at New Mexico's Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility since his puppyhood. Like most of the Mexican wolves at the WCC, M1133 was cared for in a way to best prepare him for a future in the wild. At last count in 2012, there were approximately 58 wild Mexican wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico and some have died since that tally. In order to ensure the genetic health of this terribly limited population, it's vital that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program grant's new wolves an opportunity to join their wild kin. And what an amazing gift to bestow - freedom!

Last month U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the release of M1133 in hopes that the 4-year-old male would fill a void within Arizona's Bluestem pack created after alpha male M806 was illegally shot and killed a few months ago. M1133 was released on January 8th in the Apache National Forest of east-central Arizona, however, his stint in the wild was short lived. After just 3 weeks in the wild, M1133 is back in captivity. USFWS captured the lobo because he failed to catch the attention of the Bluestem Pack's alpha female. Shortly after his release, M1133 headed east crossing the state border into New Mexico. When it became clear to USFWS that he was heading increasingly further away from all wild lobos (likely in search for a mate) it was decided that the genetically valuable wolf can better contribute to the recovery of this rare species by being introduced to a mate in captivity. M1133 has since paired with a wild-born female at a captive breeding center and the couple is slated to be released sometime in the future. Let's hope we doesn't have to wait another 1500 days until the couple gets the "call of the wild."

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