Background Info

The Mexican gray wolf (sometimes just called the Mexican wolf or lobo) is an endangered species. Prior to the 20th century, the subspecies, smaller than other North American wolves, roamed from central Mexico to as far north as the U.S. state of Colorado.

But, as human settlement intensified across the Southwest in the early 1900s, wolves increasingly came into conflict with livestock operations and other human activities. Private, state, and federal extermination campaigns were waged against the wolf until, by the 1970s, the Mexican gray wolf faced extinction. The wolves were targeted because they preyed on sheep, cattle, and goats, as well as traditional prey such as deer and elk.

Beginning in 1998, wolves from captive-breeding programs in the United States and Mexico were released in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona and Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The wolves reintroduced to these national forests are called an "non-essential experimental population."

For Further Exploration

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

captive-breeding program

Noun

plans, research, and work done by an organization, such as a zoo, to control reproduction of rare species in that organization's facilities (not in the wild).

cattle

Noun

cows and oxen.

endangered species

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species

experimental population

Noun

group of threatened or endangered species reintroduced to a designated area.

exterminate

Verb

to completely destroy.

extinction

Noun

process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.

forest

Noun

ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

livestock

noun, plural noun

animals raised for sale and profit.

prey

Noun

animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

prior

Adjective

before or ahead of.

reintroduce

Verb

to return members of a species to their historical range.

roam

Verb

to wander or travel over a wide area without a specific destination.

wolf

Noun

mammal related to the dog.

Credits

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Photographer

Jorge E. Vallina

Producer

Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Sources

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexican Wolf Recovery Program

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