The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre
The species still struggles on both sides of the border.
Hunting, trapping and poisoning nearly obliterated the Southwest's Mexican gray wolf in the '70s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began captive breeding and started releasing wolves in New Mexico and Arizona 16 years ago. Today, around 83 roam the wild, but conflicts with humans and livestock have prompted environmental groups to try to create more cow-free space by retiring grazing permits ("The Gila Solution," HCN, 2/17/14).
Mexican wolves were also nearly wiped out south of the border, where officials began releasing captive-bred animals in 2011. This summer, the first known litter of wild pups was born in the western Sierra Madre (see photo above). Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment until Sept. 23 on a revised, and controversial, management plan. Advocates want stronger protections, but the proposal continues the animal's ESA "nonessential experimental" designation. It would give wolves more room to roam, though not into historic range in the Grand Canyon and Southern Rocky Mountains.