Wolves To Be Released in Gila Wilderness

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish are scheduled to release a pair of Mexican wolves into the Gila Wilderness today, bringing New Mexico's total population of wolves to approximately eight animals.

Colleen Buchanan, assistant Mexican Wolf Coordinator with the Service, said the pair being released includes a 3-year-old male and a 4-year-old female. The animals previously had been released in Arizona and the female is known to be pregnant.

"This pair is being re-released in New Mexico because they can add some valuable genetic material that is not represented in the wolves we already have," said Chuck Hayes, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Hayes is an assistant chief of the Department's Conservation Services Division, responsible for endangered species.

There are three lineages of Mexican wolves involved in wolf recovery in the Southwest, Hayes said, Aragon, McBride and Ghost Ranch. One of them - McBride - is already represented in the Gila Wilderness, and the pair being released today adds the Aragon and Ghost Ranch lines to the Gila population.

Hayes estimates there are six wolves living in New Mexico now, two pairs and two pups. The existing wolves are generally in the Gila Wilderness, east of Snow Lake and north and west of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

Mexican wolf releases began in Arizona in 1998. There are currently about 35 wolves residing in the state of Arizona.

The Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Group, a team led by state and tribal governments, is scheduled to conduct a public meeting on the progress of wolf recovery April 30. The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Hon-dah Resort and Casino on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The meeting is being co-sponsored by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Dan Groebner, a non-game specialist for Arizona Game and Fish, said the subject of the meeting will be the transition of Mexican wolf reintroduction from a federal lead to a team led by the states and tribal wildlife agencies.

The Game Commissions of Arizona and New Mexico will hold a joint meeting May 16-17 in Safford, Ariz., to discuss several topics including wolf management.