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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction and Management

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been actively involved in reintroducing Mexican wolves to portions of their historical range since before the first release of wolves in 1998.

In the 1980s, the reintroduction effort focused mainly on public processes necessary to reach a decision for or against reintroduction.

Management activities during the 1990s included public opinion surveys, public meetings, site feasibility studies and surveys along both sides of the Mexican border for naturally-occurring wolves. In addition, there was intensive coordination with cooperating agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Forest Service.

As a result of these activities and a federal mandate from the Endangered Species Act of 1973, a federal decision was made to release captive Mexican wolves in east-central Arizona. In 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in eastern Arizona. Additional releases have occurred since the initial release.

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.



Status: In 1976, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Mexican wolf as an endangered species.

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. The department works to address stakeholder concerns and acheive a balance between those that live, work and recreate in areas shared with the wolf and the recovery goals. Education and outreach remains a critical component of the Mexican wolf reintroduction effort.

Mexican wolves had once disappeared completely from Arizona and New Mexico. As of the beginning of 2015 though, surveys identified at least 109 Mexican wolves in the BRWRA. The number refelcts only those animals that were visually seen and biologists know more exist that were not counted. More than 300 additional wolves are being held in various captive-breeding facilities located throughout the United States and Mexico.

The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project is a cooperative effort between five co-lead agencies: Arizona Game and Fish Department, White Mountain Apache Tribe, U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Interagency Field Team: An Interagency Field Team (IFT) carries out on-the-ground activities for the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project (project). The department dedicates four to five biologists to the team and is the primary agency conducting day-to-day management of the wolves.  

Field team members are agency employees, interns or volunteers. Team positions include field team leaders (one per state and tribal lead agency); wildlife biologists and specialists; depredation specialists; conservation education and outreach specialists; field assistants; and, other staff as the lead agencies and cooperators may deem appropriate and necessary. 

  Learn More
  • Wolf howls recording [MP3, 2.8 mb] - Bluestem Pack, Oct. 2009
What's New!

Wolf Location Information

  • View the latest 3-month wolf distribution map [PDF] 3.1mb


Last updated: 3/11/15

Documents Open for Public Review & Comment

Comment deadline:

- None currently open
  To Submit Comment
  E-mail public comment to or address postal mail to Jon Cooley; c/o AZ Game and Fish Dept., 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop, AZ, 85935. The comment deadline is ---.
External Resources [More]

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Program information and statistics



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