According to the zoo in Albuquerque, they had 72 pups born but not all survived. Approximately 30% of all Mexican gray wolf pups die within the first year. The Albuquerque zoo is now celebrating the survival of one of three pups born at their facility this year.
Shutterstock /Mexican Gray Wolves
Zoo officials said the pup has grown over the past few months and is becoming more curious and confident. May marked the first time in almost 15 years that the BioPark welcomed the Mexican gray wolf pups.
BioPark has taken in injured wild wolves and cares for those that need medical treatment or rehabilitation. Two wolves arrived in November from separate packs in Arizona and New Mexico. They had both been caught in leg hold traps. They are expected to return to their wild packs after further care and rehabilitation.
Mexican wolves are the rarest subspecies of gray wolves in North America and have struggled to gain any ground since being released in 1998. This was in an effort to return them to their historic range in the American Southwest.
Challenges include poaching, legal challenges, politics, and complications from a lack of genetic diversity.
A recent survey showed there were approximately 131 Mexican gray wolves in the wild in the southern mountain ranges of New Mexico and Arizona. It’s estimated there are only 30 wolves in Mexico in the wild.
Unfortunately, the population is a far cry from what biologists had hoped for by now. Many animal protection groups have more concerns about trapping and Defender of Wildlife estimates there have been 13 wolves caught, unintentionally, in traps over the past 4 years with 3 taking place in 2019.
Bryan Bird, southwest program director for Defenders, said the population in New Mexico is still recovering but the loss of any endangered wolf is unacceptable. He urges the New Mexico Game Commission to close areas to commercial and recreational trapping within the wolf recovery area.