The Mexican wolf field team has finished the end-of-year survey of the wild population (See Follow the Pack for January 20 to learn how they count the wolves.). Biologists had hoped that the population would grow in 2009. Unfortunately, they found only 42 animals. This is ten fewer wolves than they counted in January 2009. Although 31 pups were born in 2009, the field team found only seven in mid-January 2010. It’s normal for some wild wolf pups to die, but this year many more were lost than usual. Project biologists will be looking hard for the causes of last year’s heavy losses.
Five packs had at least one living pup at the end of 2009, but only two packs had at least two surviving offspring. Those breeding pairs are the Hawk’s Nest and Paradise packs, with two pups each. Both those packs are in Arizona. Other packs with one pup each are the Bluestem and Rim packs in Arizona and the Middle Fork pack in New Mexico.
The breeding season for Mexican wolves in the wild is just beginning. We’re hoping that every wild pack will have puppies later this spring. We also hope that many more pups will survive this year.
Two members of the Hawk’s Nest Pack, one of the two breeding pairs