It’s Lobo Week 2015—a time to look back and reflect on the progress that has been made in the recovery and return of the Mexican gray wolf to its native habitat. Seventeen years ago the first eleven captive-born and raised Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) were released into the wild. It’s been a long and contentious process, but a survey completed at the end of 2014 confirmed that there are now more than 100 of the wolves living in New Mexico and Arizona—a long-anticipated benchmark.
A critical part of the recovery has been and continues to be the captive breeding program. Zoos and refuges across the country participate in the Species Survival Plan that saved the wolves from extinction and are the perfect place to get a closer look at the endangered wolves. Two of my favorites are Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood, New Mexico (20 minutes east of Albuquerque) and The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California (30 minutes south of Palm Springs). Both have large natural habitats with good viewing areas (don’t forget your binoculars).
One of the facilities that I have not yet visited is the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) in South Salem, New York, just fifty miles from Manhattan (I won’t venture a guess as to how many minutes that might take!). Their Mexican wolves are not on display, but are visible some of the time via wildlife cameras in their enclosure and den. This video shows how the wolves are fed and explains WCC’s philosophy of keeping the wolves as wild as possible by shielding them from interaction with humans.
A highlight of this week’s celebration of the lobo will be the announcement of the winning entries in a contest to name the wolf pups born last spring (38 had been captured and collared at the end of 2014).
As a judge, I had the privilege of reviewing the 91 entries; each included either a drawing or essay. The kids (kindergarten through 8th grade) amazed me with their knowledge of the wolves and the thought given to assigning names to the newest lobos. It was a blind judging so I, too, am anxious to find out the results!
For lots more information about Mexican gray wolves visit Lobos of the Southwest.
A little late . . . but enjoy the rest of your week and go outside!