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Mexican wolf population in Arizona, New Mexico grows for 8th year in a row

The population of wild Mexican wolves grew for the eighth consecutive year in 2023.

Arizona Game and Fish has released its count for 2023, showing a 6% increase over 2022. There are now at least 257 Mexican wolves distributed across Arizona and New Mexico. 

It marked the longest continuous streak since recovery efforts began.

Workers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched conservation efforts for Mexican wolves in the late ‘70s.  They developed a captive breeding program with just seven Mexican wolves and reintroduced them to the wild in 1998.

In addition to the wild population, there are about 350 Mexican wolves in facilities throughout the U.S. and Mexico under the Mexican Wolf Saving Animals From Extinction program.

The field team also saw success with fostering in 2023. A minimum of 15 fostered Mexican wolf pups have survived to breeding age, and at least 10 fostered wolves have successfully bred and produced litters in the wild. Fostered Mexican wolves have produced more than 20 litters, and several of those offspring have gone on to produce pups of their own.

“It’s encouraging to see success across the board with our recovery efforts,” said Brady McGee, the Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Having fostered Mexican wolves survive, disperse, pair up, breed, and start packs of their own tells us that fostering is working.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.