The Mexican gray wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf, and is the most endangered type of wolf in the world. Commonly referred to as “El lobo,” its coat is a combination of brown, gray, rust, and tan. Its tail, legs, and ears are often highlighted with black.
Mexican wolves mostly eat ungulates (large hoofed mammals) like elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer. They are also known to eat smaller mammals like javelinas, rabbits, ground squirrels and mice.
After being wiped out in the United States and with only a few animals remaining in Mexico, Mexican wolves were bred in captivity and reintroduced to the wild in Arizona beginning in 1998. There are only about 300 Mexican wolves in captivity. The goal of the reintroduction program was to restore at least 100 wolves to the wild by 2006; unfortunately, at the end of 2010 there were only approximately 50.
Mexican wolves once ranged widely from central Mexico throughout the southwestern US. Today, the Mexican wolf has been reintroduced to the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona and may move into the adjacent Gila National Forest in western New Mexico as the population expands.
Mexican wolves prefer to live in mountain forests, grasslands and shrublands, and are very social animals. They live in packs, which are complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack help it to work as a unit.
Mating Season: Mid February-mid March.
Gestation: 63 days.
Litter size: 4-7 pups.
Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they mature at about 10 months of age.
© Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
[Note: photos taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum]