Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 8, 2019

Contact:  Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Mexican Gray Wolf Numbers Increase by 14 Animals in 2018

Releases of Captive Wolves Needed to Spur Recovery in Arizona, New Mexico

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The U.S. population of endangered Mexican gray wolves increased by 14 animals in 2018, from 117 to 131 during 2018, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service census announced today. The numbers represent a 12 percent population increase.

Sixty-four of those animals were in Arizona and 67 in New Mexico.

“It’s heartening that the population of these endangered wolves got a boost last year,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “To sustain the numbers, the Fish and Wildlife Service must release captive wolf families and protect them to increase the health of wolves in the wild.”

The Center recommends freeing four captive packs in 2019 and another four in 2020 to reduce inbreeding and bolster pup-survival in the wild.

“This population boost is good news, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Robinson. “The government should be releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild to ensure they’re on track to recover.”

The current wild population of Mexican gray wolves was first established through the releases of well-bonded pairs with their pups. But the Service halted such releases after 2006.

Starting in 2016, the agencies began taking newborn pups from their captive parents and placing them in the dens of wild wolves, but genetic diversity has continued to decline.

In contrast, northern gray wolves were released into Idaho in 1995, just three years before the start of the southwestern reintroduction program. By 1999, Idaho’s wolves surpassed the number of wolves found today in Arizona and New Mexico.

Recognizing the ecological importance of carnivores, the Center for Biological Diversity uses science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about the Center’s carnivore conservation campaign.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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