Experiment aims to help Mexican gray wolf pups
by Susan Montoya Bryan
With threats of disease, malnutrition and even inbreeding, the deck can be stacked against a Mexican gray wolf pup.
Federal wildlife managers have long been troubled by the survival rates of wild-born pups, so they’ve started experimenting in an effort to boost the population as they reintroduce the endangered predator to the American Southwest.
Biologists earlier this month transplanted a pair of 2-week-old pups born in a large litter to another pack of wolves with a smaller litter and more rearing experience. The cross-fostering technique has worked with red wolves on the East Coast. This marks the first time it’s being tried with Mexican gray wolves.
Benjamin Tuggle, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region, said the goal is not only to grow the population, but to have wolves that are genetically diverse and can steer clear of trouble while living in the wild.
"Cross-fostering is just one of the management tools we can use to improve the genetic health of the wild population," he said.
Photo by Don Burkett