The Mexican wolf is an endangered-species rarity in that its major recovery needs are not habitat management and restoration. Rather, social tolerance is the primary recovery challenge.
Wolves are primarily monogamous, even though a pack can include more than one sexually mature female. Behavioral and physiological adaptations usually prevent more than one female per pack from breeding, which normally occurs in February. If a breeding wolf, also known as an alpha wolf, dies or is removed from the pack, another wolf from within or outside of the pack can fill this breeder position immediately, prior to the next breeding season. However, removal of an alpha animal can disrupt the pack to the point where it essentially dissolves and pack members begin moving independently. Mexican wolf dens are located under various objects, including rock ledges or logs, or dug into soft soil. Dens can be reused, but it appears that most reintroduced Mexican wolves move their dens annually, even if just a short distance.
Vegetation type influences wolf density and distribution indirectly through the support of large ungulate (hoofed) prey, upon which the wolf is dependent.
Wolves occurred mostly in Arizona’s mountainous woodlands prior to European settlement, and were gradually eliminated first in the more accessible areas as livestock production became more common and depredations increased. Most wolves were gone from Arizona by the 1940s, but occasional sightings were still reported, mostly along the Mexican border.
To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
Endangered and Threatened Species
Relatively few native species of wildlife have been extirpated from Arizona since pre-settlement days and even fewer have become extinct. In fact, most native species in Arizona are still abundant and offer tremendous recreational and educational opportunities, whether through harvest or observation. Some species are no longer abundant and many are increasingly threatened by habitat degradation, disease, introduced species and climate change.