A Mexican gray wolf pup.
Winter is coming. Actually, winter is here, even in the American South.
In a hopeful sign, AP reports that the population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico is on the rise:
Annual survey results show there are at least 75 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the most since the federal government began efforts to return the wolves to their historic range in 1998.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional director Benjamin Tuggle attributed the boost in population to management efforts aimed at reducing conflicts between the wolves and ranchers and other rural residents.
The estimates released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are based on ground and aerial surveys done in recent weeks. There are at least 38 wolves in New Mexico and 37 in Arizona. Last year, the estimate stood at 58 for the two states.
The survey also indicated there were three breeding pairs among the 13 packs that were identified. There were twice as many breeding pairs last year, but officials noted that 20 pups were born in 2012 and survived through the end of the year, marking the 11th consecutive year in which wild-born wolves bred and raised pups in the wild.
The management efforts have not been without hitches. For example, a four-year-old male wolf named M1133 (a rather unimaginative name, btw) was introduced into the wild in Arizona last month, in the hopes that he would mate with a female wolf who had recently lost her mate to a poacher. However, last week, M1133 was recaptured “because he’d strayed outside his prospective mate’s territory and the two were unlikely to meet.” Bummer. (Sometimes, blind dates that you set up for your friends just don’t go as planned…) He may get a second chance.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, where authorities estimate “that more than 270 wolves are living in the wild,” the government had authorized a “targeted cull” of 16 wolves. After three wolves killed, that cull has now been suspended pending a legal challenge.
(Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Cally Carswell.)