Q: Is there enough room for Mexican wolves?
New Mexico is a very large state at 121,356 square miles, with a population of 1,928,384—an average of 15 people per square mile. New Mexico is currently home to only about 15 Mexican wolves—one wolf for every 128,558 people. Mexican wolves are only allowed to live within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA)
The BRWRA is nearly 7,000 square miles of mostly public national forest and wilderness lands in Arizona and New Mexico, and only 5% of the area is private property. Wolves in New Mexico live mostly on national forest lands and wilderness areas in Catron County. Catron County is the largest county in the New Mexico at about 7,000 square miles and the least populated county in New Mexico—only 3,405 residents according to the US Census Bureau’s 2008 count. That equals 0.5 persons per square mile, but far fewer people live within the Gila National Forest in the remote wolf recovery area. When driving through the BRWRA, one rarely sees a house. Currently, on average, there is 1 wolf for every 340 square miles or 218,000 acres. It is no wonder wolves are not often seen in this big wild country.
In contrast, the state of Wisconsin has 54,310 square miles of land and a population of 5,627,967—an average of about 100 people per square mile. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources there were about 650 timber wolves (larger than our lobos) living in Wisconsin in late winter 2009—one wolf for every 8,700 people and every 84 square miles. With less than half the land, nearly three times the people, and much less public land, Wisconsin has over 40 times as many wolves as New Mexico, and over twice as many cattle.
Given these facts, you decide if there is enough room for Mexican wolves in New Mexico and the Southwest.