Nov. 10, 2023

In celebration of this year’s 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the U.S., the Arizona Game and Fish Department will next week (Nov. 12-18) highlight videos, articles, podcasts, events and other resources to educate the public on the Mexican wolf recovery effort. See schedule below.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the wild in the U.S. Once occurring throughout parts of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican wolf had all but disappeared by 1970. In 1976, this gray wolf subspecies was listed as endangered, and a binational captive breeding program was initiated to save it from extinction.

In 1998, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department and other conservation partners released the first 11 captive Mexican wolves into the wild in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona and New Mexico. With the birth of the first wild-born litter from a wild-born parent in 2002, the Mexican Wolf reintroduction project entered into a new phase, whereby natural reproduction began to replace the need to release captive-reared wolves. Proven techniques such as fostering are injecting new genetics into the population.  

Since 1998, the wild population has grown from zero in 1998 to a minimum of 242 Mexican wolves in 2022, with about 60 known packs documented. There is still work to do, but for a subspecies once extirpated from the U.S., the revival of the Mexican wolf has thus far been a remarkable comeback story.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has always advocated for a balanced approach to Mexican wolf recovery, taking into account the department’s conservation mission as well as the needs of people who live, work and recreate on the landscape. 

The Mexican Wolf Recovery Program is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Wildlife Services), White Mountain Apache Tribe, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service (NPS).


Sunday, Nov. 12
Video: A Year of Milestones for Endangered Mexican Wolves.
Twenty-five years after Mexican wolves were first reintroduced to the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the population reached a major milestone. Learn about all the activities involved in doing the annual Mexican wolf population count. See the VIDEO. (

Monday, Nov. 13
Podcast: Endangered Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.
Jim Heffelfinger, AZGFD’s Wildlife Science Coordinator, and Jim deVos, AZGFD’s Mexican Wolf Coordinator, discuss ongoing management and recovery activities along with challenges and successes of Mexican Wolf recovery efforts. Listen to the PODCAST (scroll to 9th item down).

Tuesday, Nov. 14
Article: A Day in the Life of a Wolf Biologist.
What’s an “average” day like for a wolf biologist? The answer is, there is no such thing as an average day. In the September/October 2023 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, AZGFD wolf biologist Bailey Dilgard discusses the different aspects of the job and the need to be flexible and adapt to changing priorities and circumstances. Read the ARTICLE.  

Wednesday, November 15
Video: Fostering Genetically Valuable Mexican Wolf Pups.
Genetic management is one of the most important aspects of Mexican wolf recovery. AZGFD and its conservation partners are injecting new genetics into the wild wolf population through fostering (taking wolf pups from captivity and placing them into wild wolf dens so they can be raised as wild wolves). Fostering works, as wild-raised wolves are less likely to get into conflicts with people than captive-raised wolves. This video also highlights the work of some of the other partners, including captive-breeding facilities such as the Endangered Wolf Center and the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, and transport entities such as Lighthawk Conservation Flying. See the VIDEO. (

Thursday, November 16
E-newsletter: Mexican Wolf Quarterly Update.
Want to stay up-to-date on wolf recovery efforts? Sign up for a free subscription to this quarterly newsletter delivered right to your e-mail address. Read the Third Quarter 2023 update HERE. To subscribe, visit

Friday, November 17
Video: Range Riders — Protecting Livestock & Conserving Mexican Wolves.
Reducing conflicts between wolves and people is important to Mexican wolf recovery. Range Riders are people who spend time on horseback in areas where wolves and cattle are in proximity. This video shows range riders as they chase wolves from potential conflicts areas to help reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock as well as livestock depredations. See the VIDEO (

Saturday, November 18
Public eventArizona Trail at the Phoenix Zoo, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Come on out to the Phoenix Zoo, one of our conservation partners, and visit with Arizona Game and Fish Department members of the Interagency Field Team (IFT). Ask questions, learn more about on-the-ground efforts toward Mexican wolf conservation. 

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