A lone, endangered Mexican gray wolf has crossed I-40 in search of a mate

A lone endangered Mexican gray wolf was tracked across the highway into New Mexico in search of a mate.

The lone Mexican wolf, fitted with a GPS collar by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), had left his pack in Arizona and traveled all the way to Las Vegas in New Mexico, Albuquerque TV station KRQE reported.

It traveled about 30 miles a day, roaming the eastern mountains. After crossing Interstate 40, she arrived near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, an FWS spokesman told the news agency.

The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of wolf in the United States and Mexico. They used to be abundant throughout the US Southwest and Mexico, but were largely eradicated in the 1970s. Today they are only found in the grasslands and montane forests of Arizona and New Mexico. They are particularly threatened by the species’ lack of genetic diversity, which results in lower reproductive success.

Wolf and the I-40
A side-by-side photo shows a Mexican wolf and a sign for I-40. A wolf recently crossed I-40 in search of a mate.
Gnagel and Darwin Brandis

The US Fish and Wildlife Service closely monitors the species to track population. The service began a Mexican gray wolf recovery and conservation program in spring 2021 that aims to restore the species to its original range throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico.

This particular wolf is a one-year-old female born under the recovery plan, KRQE reported.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service thinks she’s looking for a mate, but the further north she moves, the less likely she’ll find one.

“If she stays in this area where there are no other wolves, she is not contributing to the recovery,” Brady McGee, Mexican wolf recovery coordinator at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, told KRQE.

news week has reached out to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for comment.

Lone wolves usually leave their pack to mate or to find food.

An estimated 144 Mexican wolf cubs were born in 2021, and wildlife officials believe at least 56 survived by the end of the year.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service fears that if the young female travels even further north, she may come into contact with northern gray wolves. If the two were to mate it would set back recovery efforts as Mexican gray wolves have very unique DNA.

It’s possible officials will track and capture the she-wolf to take her back to Arizona or Mexico, where the rescue plan is underway.

Even after the wolves have mated, it is difficult to maintain the population. Mexican wolf pups are incredibly vulnerable, and according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, they have about a 50 percent chance of seeing their second year. Their survival largely depends on the availability of prey in the area.

https://www.newsweek.com/lone-endangered-mexican-gray-wolf-crosses-i40-search-mate-1772956 A lone, endangered Mexican gray wolf has crossed I-40 in search of a mate

Rick Schindler

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