Mexican wolf population shows 23% increase

Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

Mexican wolf recovery is going well with the 2022 population estimate showing a 23% increase since 2021. This makes 2023 the seventh consecutive year in population growth, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). 

To date, there are 136 Mexican wolves in New Mexico and 105 in Arizona.

“The road to recovery for any endangered species is neither straight or easy, and this has proven to be the case for the Mexican wolf,” said Jim deVos, Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) Mexican Wolf Coordinator. “With the stunning growth that occurred in 2022, recovery has accelerated at an amazing rate. By every possible measure, progress was made, including the production from 31 breeding pairs that produced 121 pups, of which 81 were documented to having survived to the time of the count, which is a very high survival rate of 67 percent. While the road to recovery still has ground to be covered, in 2022, the recovery program covered a lot of ground.”

The Interagency Field Team conducts its population estimate November through February using ground and aerial surveys, remote cameras, scat collection and visual observation, according to FWS. The 2022 findings included 59 Mexican wolf packs (40 in New Mexico and 19 in Arizona); 121 wolf pups born in 2022 with 81 surviving, putting them at a 67% survival rate and 31 breeding pairs (20 in New Mexico and 11 in Arizona). There are currently 109 collared wolves, which accounts for 45% of the Mexico wolf’s wild population.

“Continued cooperation among the state wildlife agencies of Arizona and New Mexico and the Service is essential for recovery of the Mexican wolf,” said Stewart Liley, Chief of Wildlife, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). “During this count and capture effort, we were able to capture and radio collar 21 wolves, which will provide a better understanding of wolf activity and help with on the ground wolf management. As we work toward achieving recovery goals, we continue working to build a strong, cooperative team to manage wolves across the range.”

The Mexican wolf is considered the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America and the recovery effort has been collaborative. Partners include FWS, AZGFD, NMDGF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Species Survival Plan. 


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