#MapMonday: Mexican Gray Wolves

In this episode of #MapMonday Mae and our Southwest Program Director, Bryan Bird, chat about the endangered and elusive El Lobo (aka Mexican gray wolf). You can check out our Mexican gray wolf story map here.

Click to view video transcript

Welcome back to another Map Monday everyone!

I’m happy to be joining you again to show you some maps we’ve made on a subspecies, often referred to as “el lobo,” that is found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m talking about none other than the Mexican gray wolf.

The Mexican gray wolf is near and dear to our hearts here at Defenders since our President and CEO, Jamie Rappaport-Clark, oversaw the official reintroduction of 11 Mexican gray wolves into the wild in Arizona back in 1998 while she was leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Defenders has continued to support the Mexican gray wolf’s gradual recovery to this day.

Mexican gray wolves can be found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. The areas they currently inhabit are just a fraction of where they were found historically.

They used to number in the thousands, however human settlement and ranching throughout the region in the early 1900s all but wiped the Mexican gray wolf from the map.

By the 1970s they were completely eradicated in the wild due to habitat loss and conflict with humans and livestock.

Once the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 and Mexican gray wolves gained protection as an endangered species in 1976, a captive population was established.

For a while, the only places you could find Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. were just a handful of zoos.

It wasn’t until the 1998 reintroduction in Arizona that you could find Mexican gray wolves once again roaming in the wild.

Today there are around 163 individuals existing in a single wild population in the U.S. While this is progress, our work is far from done.

The Mexican gray wolf still currently holds the not-so-desirable title of the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world.

These 60 to 80 pound mammals’ diets often consist of animals that can be up to 10x their size, like elk, as well as white-tailed deer and mule deer.

In consuming these larger animals, Mexican gray wolves serve an important ecological role in naturally managing their populations.

Mexican gray wolves are also known to wolf down smaller mammals like javelinas, rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice.

In pursuit of their next meal, Mexican gray wolves occasionally run into conflicts with humans by going after livestock when these other animals aren’t readily available.

Defenders has been hard at work with ranchers, rural community leaders, tribes, and agencies to develop strategies to coexist with Mexican gray wolves and help this population succeed and grow in the wild.

Let’s chat with Bryan Bird, the Director of our Southwest Program, to learn more about Defenders’ efforts on the ground to further Mexican gray wolf recovery.

Thanks, Mae! I’m Bryan Bird, Director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Southwest Program.

There were just 7 Mexican gray wolves left in the wild in the late 1970s. Today there’s 163 in 42 different packs.

Defenders of Wildlife has created a story map that’s a colorful, interesting way for you to learn about the recovery of the Mexican gray wolf and what Defenders of Wildlife is doing.

There will also be a chance soon for you to raise your voice in this issue so visit our take action page. Back to you, Mae!

Thanks Bryan, and we thank you and your team for all of your hard work! I’m sure the Mexican gray wolves thank you too!

If you’d like to learn more about Mexican gray wolves and the tools Defenders is providing to coexist with them, check out our story map.

You can also stay up-to-date with our Mexican gray wolf conservation efforts on Defenders’ webpage at the link below.

Also remember that you can answer this call of the wild by helping us spread positive information about Mexican gray wolves and speaking up for wolves and the continued support of endangered species protections, like the Endangered Species Act.

Thanks for watching and happy mapping!

Mae Lacey
Previous Conservation GIS Analyst

As the previous Conservation GIS Analyst in the Center for Conservation Innovation, Mae provided support and leadership for geospatial product development across Defenders.