Mexican Gray Wolf
Canis lupus baileyi
Species Survival Plan
Mountains and forests
White-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, mice, squirrels, rabbits and sometimes carrion
Originally Native To
Mexico and southwest U.S.
30 inches at shoulder
60 - 80 lb.
Smallest of the gray wolf species with a coat containing black, brown, rust and gray
4 - 7 pups
April - May
Wild 7 - 10 years
Captivity 12 - 15 years
Packs (alpha pair, their offspring and other non-breeding adults); lifelong mates
About Mexican Gray Wolf
Mexican gray wolves are the smallest of the gray wolf subspecies and the rarest wolf from this group as well. Adults typically weigh 60-80 pounds and have a mixed coat of white, gray, brown, tan and black. These wolves live in a pack of 4-8 individuals with only one alpha breeding pair that will typically breed for life or until they are pushed out by a lower-ranking animal in their pack.
In the wild, the Mexican gray wolves’ diet consists of elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, rabbits, javelina and other small mammals. They will work together as a pack in order to take down the larger prey such as elk and deer.
The Mexican gray wolf used to be prominent in southern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, southwestern Texas and central and northern Mexico, but was slowly pushed to the verge of extinction due to human conflict in the 1900s. In 1976, the Mexican gray wolf was listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
This was huge recognition for the Mexican gray wolf showing that they needed help, and efforts between the US and Mexico would continue to do just that. The captive Mexican gray wolf program, Mexican wolf SSP, began in 1977 with huge pushes to also create a reintroduction program for these animals.
At this time, the last remaining Mexican gray wolves in the wild of the U.S. and Mexico were caught and efforts began. In 1982, the U.S.F.W.S. approved the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan, which aided in finding appropriate strategies to allow the Mexican gray wolf populations to recover.
Over time, the captive breeding program and the recovery program grew with great success, and in 1998, 11 captive-bred Mexican gray wolves were released into the wild in a small area of Arizona and New Mexico. Upon the conclusion of a 2019 survey, there were 163 Mexican wolves in the wild in the U.S. - a 24 percent increase from 2018. There are also roughly 30 in the wild in Mexico, as well as more than 300 in captive breeding facilities.
Fossil Rim has had Mexican gray wolves since 1990 when we first started to participate in the captive breeding program. Over the years, we have become mainly a holding facility wherein we are able to keep animals that are not recommended to breed or are older in age in order to help other facilities that need space for breeding.
However, in 2018, one of our wolves had two pups. Then, she gave birth to two more pups in 2019. Our Mexican gray wolves are located in the Intensive Management Area and can be seen on our Behind-the-Scenes Tour.
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As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.