The population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico increased by 10 percent in 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.
In 2012, the service counted 75 of the wolves in the two states. Last year, though, an aerial survey counted at least 83 wolves — 37 in Arizona and 46 in New Mexico. Those counts are considered to be minimums, since some wolves may not have been spotted.
The Mexican wolf is the smallest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America. It nearly became extinct in the U.S. in the 1970s due to hunting and conflicts with livestock operations. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been reintroducing wolves in Arizona and New Mexico since 1998, and the current population in the recovery area is entirely wild-born.
Given that all the wolves descended from only a handful of released wolves, the service says future releases will need to address genetic issues within the wild population.
For more information about the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, click here.