2 Mexican gray wolf pairs being released

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm •  Published: April 3, 2014
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A survey in January showed there were at least 83 Mexican wolves in the wild in the two states. That's up from 75 last year.

The two wolves captured at El Malpais are being held at Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch in New Mexico while federal officials weigh options for releasing them back into the wild.

To bolster wolf numbers, officials on Wednesday released the first of two breeding pairs in Arizona's Apache National Forest. The pair included a pregnant female and a wild male captured during the annual wolf population survey in January.

Another pair being held at a breeding center in New Mexico will be released next week.

Eva Lee Sargent, director of Defenders of Wildlife's Southwest Program, said the releases are good news. If the pairs succeed, she said their offspring will add to the genetic diversity of the struggling population.

Still, Sargent and others said the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to release more wolves and implement a recovery plan if the species has any chance of survival in the wild.

Without new wolves being released, Robinson said inbreeding will continue and the wild population will have a more difficult time finding mates that are not related.

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