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Conservationists say we could learn a lot from Asha, the wandering Mexican wolf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that Asha, a Mexican gray wolf that wandered north of Interstate 40 in New Mexico, has been captured a second time.

But some conservationists wanted her to roam.

Biologists say that, historically, the territory of various subspecies of wolves would have overlapped.

But today’s Mexican wolf packs are isolated from other forms of canis lupus.

Allowing them to roam and mate with northern gray wolves could improve genetic diversity.

In a statement, Fish and Wildlife said that no such animals exist in northern New Mexico.

Greta Anderson of the nonprofit Western Watersheds Project said there are other reasons to let wolves roam.

"The opportunity of Asha’s dispersal was to show us more about where suitable habitat could be, travel corridors, other types of natural history of wolves," Anderson said.

Fish and Wildlife said it hopes to breed Asha in captivity and re-release her in the spring or summer.

"You know she’s following an ancient drive and instinct that we can’t really understand, and by trying to confine her to our own political map and our own agenda we’re sort of limiting what we can learn about an animal’s wild life," Anderson said.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.