Mexican Gray Wolf

QUICK FACTS

Scientific Name

Canis lupus baileyi

Species Survival Plan

Yes

Habitat

Mountains and forests

Predators

Man

Food

White-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, mice, squirrels, rabbits and sometimes carrion

Originally Native To

Mexico and southwest U.S.

Height

30 inches at shoulder

Weight

60 - 80 lb.

Characteristics

Smallest of the gray wolf species with a coat containing black, brown, rust and gray

Gestation Period

63 days

Offspring

4 - 7 pups

Birth Season

April - May

Lifespan

Wild 7 - 10 years
Captivity 12 - 15 years

Social Behavior

Packs (alpha pair, their offspring and other non-breeding adults); lifelong mates

iucn_badge_critically_endangered

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 huge success, and in 1998, 11 captive-bred Mexican gray wolves were released into the wild in a small area of Arizona and New Mexico. There are now roughly 115 wolves in the wild and about 280 in captive breeding facilities throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

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. 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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ANYTHING YOU GIVE HELPS THE ANIMALS

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.