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Mexican Wolf Being Relocated to Avoid Breeding with Domestic Dogs: REPORT

By Jon D. B.,

Mexican gray wolf (captive) in Phoenix, AZ, USA. (Photo by Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images)

After traveling north of Interstate 40 in New Mexico, this Mexican wolf has a whole new conservation journey ahead of her.

First, she’ll see transfer to Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility where she’ll pair with a proper mate. Then, after a few months acclimating, she’ll cross the border to Mexico with him where, hopefully, she’ll boost an endangered population, and not the wolf-dog hybrids of the southwestern U.S.

On Jan. 22, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) authorized her capture. Known as f2754, she’s a Mexican wolf who had left the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Recovery Area (MWEPA) earlier this month. After locating her via helicopter, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish would bring her into their care that same day. All of this, USFWS notes in their press release, is in accordance with current policy on this endangered species.

The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or lobo, was once prevalent across Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Livestock conflicts had the species on the brink of extinction by the 20th century, however. With the Endangered Species Act and surrounding legislation of the 1970s, the Mexican wolf was able to garner protection. But it would take 22 years for USFWS to release captive-bred wolves into the MWEPA, which now holds around 196 wolves. The Mexican population hovers around 37, though, which is why USFWS feels f2754 will better serve that population.

Mexican Wolf’s Transfer Avoids ‘Negative Interaction or Breeding with Domestic Dogs’

“Plans are in place to pair f2754 with a male Mexican wolf for transfer as a pair to Mexico later this year. These wolves are genetically redundant in the MWEPA and provide more value to the Mexico population,” USFWS’s press release cites. And this, the agency also cites, is a far more advantageous arrangement than having her breed with dogs.

“As it is breeding season and there are no other known wolves in the area, there was a high likelihood of a negative interaction or breeding with domestic dogs,” their release adds.

When no proper wild mates are present, wolves and coyotes will breed with domestic dogs. This includes dogs that have become ‘feral’ and roam free (and not just active pets). F2754 specifically has been roaming north of Interstate 40 for all of January. And since January 9, she’s showed no signs of returning to the MWEPA. F2754 has become far more likely to breed with dogs than wolves as a result.

On the technical side, the decision to capture and transfer f2754 comes in accordance with the Service’s current recovery permit:

“Authorized Permittees may capture and at the direction and discretion of the USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, return to the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, or transfer to captivity or Mexico, any Mexican wolves that have dispersed from the experimental population and that establish wholly outside of the MWEPA in Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas.”

USFWS Recovery Permit

Hopefully, f2754 avoids the fate of so many Mexican wolves who are mistakenly shot here in the U.S.

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