Monday, December 7, 2015

Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Born in Westchester, NY Released in the Wild



The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) is celebrating a small victory this month on behalf of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf!

The combined and ongoing efforts to support and grow the wild population Mexican gray wolves resulted in the release of six wolves (parents and four pups born this spring) into the wild in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental! The adult male in the family, Mexican gray wolf “M1141,” was born at the WCC with the goal of wild release. “With this release, we are attempting to augment the breeding wolf population in Mexico and also expand its genetic diversity,” explained WCC director Maggie Howell. “The importance of a keystone predator such as the Mexican wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable and we’re honored to be a part of the effort to preserve North America’s wild heritage.”

The seven-year-old is one of six Mexican wolves born at the WCC in 2008, and although an average of 10,000 guests visit the Center annually, visitors have never seen him. M1141 is among the fluctuating population of rare wolves who have lived off-exhibit within the WCC's 16-acre Endangered Species Facility - a natural environment where these incredibly elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. This setting and a strict diet of whole carcass road killed deer safeguards their natural behavior and best prepares the endangered wolves for a wild future.

Since 2003 the WCC has played a critical role in preserving and protecting these imperiled species through carefully managed breeding and reintroduction. To date, the WCC remains one of the largest holding facilities for Mexican gray wolves and three wolves from the Center have been given the extraordinary opportunity to resume their rightful place on the wild landscape.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998, eleven wolves were reintroduced into the wild of Arizona as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. A second reintroduction project was initiated in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico in October of 2011 and in the spring of 2014, the first pups in over 30 years were born in the wild of Mexico as a result of this new reestablishment effort. Today in the U.S., there remains a single wild population comprising only 109 individuals. Unfortunately artificial boundaries, state politics, and illegal killings continue to put recovery in a choke-hold.

The Wolf Conservation Center a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit environmental education organization located in South Salem, NY. The WCC is committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf. Through wolves the WCC teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World.

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