Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale is opening a new enclosure for its Mexican Gray Wolves, a highly endangered species that once covered much of the Southwest and Mexico, but now numbers only about 60 wolves in the wild.
The enclosure will allow people to walk down “Lobo Lane” into the midst of the wolves, which are in enclosures on both sides. Southwest Wildlife hopes the enclosure will help the public learn more about the remarkable animals and help give them a future in the wild.
The wildlife sanctuary also is holding a Wolf Awareness event on Sat., Oct. 19, which will include crafts for kids, opportunities to learn about the endangered wolves and their place in our world, and a tour of the sanctuary including all its resident animals.
Cost is $25 for adults; $15 per child. Space is limited. For reservations, call 480-471-3621.
The new enclosure was made possible by a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.
Southwest Wildlife is part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS). However, the program has encountered resistance to releasing more wolves into the wild. There are only about 60 Mexican gray wolves in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona — not enough to ensure their survival.
One of the wolves at Southwest Wildlife, Himuti, is contributing to the survival of the species. He is a descendant of wild wolves that were captured and became the foundation for a captive breeding program in the late 1970s. Himuti’s parents became famous among wolf-recovery advocates because of their incredible bond with each other.
Himuti’s father, Picaron, had a deep, baritone howl that stood out from other wolves at The Endangered Wolf Center in Missouri. His chemistry with Tanamara, a female wolf, was instant, and over their years together, the couple substantially contributed to the survival of their species, delivering three litters of pups, including Himuti, who was born in 2005.
In 2009, Tanamara passed away. When she died, Picaron howled for so long and so often that he permanently damaged his vocal cords. His life, and his magnificent howl, were never the same without her. Faithful Picaron passed away in early 2012.
Southwest Wildlife also has been involved in field research on “taste aversion” approaches to deter wolves and mountain lions from killing cattle, preferring instead to stick to natural prey like deer and elk. A number of other deterrents to wolves have been proven useful to ranchers, such as selecting the right grazing areas based on the season, removing any dead or diseased animals promptly, using guard dogs, etc.
As predators of large hoofed mammals like deer and elk, Mexican Gray Wolves have an important role in the ecosystem that is not filled by other predators. This species hunts cooperatively, identifying the sick, injured and old animals that are easier to kill. This helps to keep the prey population healthy and strong.
But over-hunting of elk and deer by man in the early 1990s resulted in many wolves preying on livestock. This led to intense efforts to eradicate them. They were shot, trapped, and poisoned by private individuals and government agencies. In 1976, the Mexican gray wolf was listed as an endangered species.
When they were finally protected by the Endangered Species Act in 1976, no Mexican Gray wolves remained in the United States. Five wolves were trapped in the mountains of Mexico between 1977 and 1980. These were all that survived of a wild population of Mexican Gray wolves once native to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
Those five wolves, called the McBride lineage after the trapper who captured them, were the foundation for a captive breeding program managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal of the program is to reintroduce this rare wolf to its former range. The Aragon and Ghost Ranch lineages were added to the breeding program when four additional wolves, found in captivity, proved to be pure-blooded Mexican wolves.
Wolves have a complex social hierarchy, and male and female pairs usually bond for life or until one dies. Remarkably, all Mexican wolves alive today are descendants of the few remaining wolves captured in the late 1970s.
Reintroduction to the wild began in 1998, in the designated “Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area,” which covers parts of Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico. As of December 2011, there were approximately 58 Mexican gray wolves in the wild population.
Including the captive population, there are just over 300 Mexican gray wolves alive, making them the most endangered wolf in the world.
Southwest Wildlife has been a long-standing member of the Recovery Program, participating in the Species Survival Plan for this sub-species of the gray wolf, and helping its preservation by offering space at its sanctuary to care for part of the captive population. As a holding facility, Southwest Wildlife covers the entire expense of feeding and caring for these animals, with no contribution from either federal or state agencies.
This article is from Arizona.newszap.com
The Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has ordered the trapping of the alpha male and female of the Paradise Pack in Arizona who, like Picaron and Tanamara, have been together for years. If trapping is not stopped, this wolf pair will be taken from the wild, possibly separated, and forced to spend the remainder of their lives in captivity.
Please act to keep these wolves together in the wild where they belong. Click here.
At the same time the USFWS is attempting to trap these wolves, it is taking comments on proposal to change Mexican wolf management. Part of the proposal could help get more wolves into the wild, but most of it threatens the Mexican wolf’s continued survival and recovery. Your comments are needed to help lobos survive beyond the current crisis. Click here. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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