Mexican Gray Wolf


©Jacqueline Fallon, Minnesota Zoological Garden

The endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), also known as the timber wolf, is the most endangered wolf in North America. The smallest of all the gray wolf subspecies, these wolves were once abundant throughout the western United States.  Wolves are found in groups called packs, which consist of 7 to 30 individuals. 

The greatest threats to the Mexican gray wolf population are human-related and include habitat loss and hunting.  By the turn of the century, a decrease in prey species such as deer and elk caused many wolves to attack domestic livestock.   To protect their assets, government agencies and ranchers extirpated the Mexican gray wolf from the wild by the 1950’s, and they could only be found in zoos and other facilities. In 1976, the Mexican gray wolf was declared an endangered species and in 1997, the United States Secretary of the Interior authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin the reintroduction of the species in the Blue Ridge Wolf Reintroduction Areas of Arizona and New Mexico.  In 2010 there were 59 wolves in this area; 46 of which were born in the wild!

The Canid and Hyaenid Taxon Advisory Group and the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan ® Program manage more than 340 individuals at 47 AZA-accredited institutions. Several AZA-accredited zoos are involved in reintroducing these animals back into the wild. In hopes of re-establishing the subspecies to a portion of its historic range, 40 Mexican grey wolves have been reintroduced in the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona.  Biologists use radio tracking methods to monitor and evaluate the population health of these animals. 

The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund awarded the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center $6,000 for developing and administering the Mexican gray wolf keeper training workshop which provides zookeepers with the current information on nutrition, population management, behavior and the reintroduction of these animals.

Mexican Gray Wolf Facts

Status Endangered
Size Mexican gray wolf adults are between 4 and 5 feet long and usually weigh 70 to 90 pounds - about the size of a German shepherd.
Appearance The Mexican gray wolf is gray with light brown fur on its back.
Habitat The current Mexican gray wolf habitat is in the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona and may move into the neighboring Gila National Forest in western New Mexico as the population expands.
Diet The Mexican gray wolf eats small hoofed animals like white-tailed deer, mule deer, and elk as well as smaller mammals such as rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice.
Breeding The Mexican gray wolf mating season occurs between February and March and the gestation period is 63 days yielding between 4 and 7 pups.