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Gray wolf (Southwest DPS)

The southwestern gray wolf (Canis lupus) range includes the entire range of the Mexican gray wolf (C. l. baileyi; southern New Mexico, southern Arizona, western Texas, and northern Mexico) as well as northern Arizona, northern New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado -- areas historically occupied by other gray wolf subspecies [1]. The wolf was purposefully hunted to near extinction in the Southwest in order to eliminate livestock depradation. In 1970, the last Mexican gray wolf was shot in Texas and the subspecies was extirpated from the United States. At that time, no wolves were present in what is now delineated as the range of the southwestern population.

The Mexican gray wolf was placed on the endangered species list in 1976 and the last five wild wolves from Mexico were captured and moved to captive breeding facilities in the United States and Mexico between 1977 and 1980 [2]. A federal recovery plan was developed in 1982 [3]. By the late 1980s captive breeding facilities were successfully rearing Mexican gray wolves, but none had been reintroduced to the wild. Conservationists filed suit in 1990, obtaining a settlement requiring reintroduction [4]. On March 29, 1998 the first 11 captive Mexican gray wolves were released into the Blue Range of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona near the New Mexico border. As of December 31, 2005, there were 35-49 wild wolves in 8 packs on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona, and in the adjacent Gila National Forest in New Mexico [5]. The total population of wild and captive wolves grew from 22 in 1976 to 309 in 2004 [6, 7].

[1] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Final Rule To Reclassify and Remove the Gray Wolf From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in Portions of the Conterminous United States; Establishment of Two Special Regulations for Threatened Gray Wolves. April 1, 2003 (68 FR 15804).
[2] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.1998. Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. January 12, 1998 (63 FR 1752).
[3] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1982. Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
Albuquerque, NM.
[4] Wolf Action Group v. Lujan, No. 90-0390 HB (DNM filed Apr. 3, 1990)
[5] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Gray Wolf Populations in the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. Accessed 1/18/06.
[6] Siminski, P. 2005. Census Report as of 31/12/2004. Email from Peter Siminski, Director of Collections, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, August 10, 2005
[7] Robinson, M. 2005. Wild Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. and Mexico, 1920-2005. Email from Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, August 1, 2005.

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