Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Sherry Barrett, USFS Wolf Recovery Coordinator
The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is the smallest, rarest, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Conflicts with livestock led to the eventual extirpation of the Mexican wolf in the United States in the mid-1900s. Mexican wolves were listed as an endangered species in 1976, following the passage of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. This prompted recovery efforts to save the species from extinction. In 1977 and 1978, the last known five wild Mexican wolves were captured in Durango and Chihuahua, Mexico, to establish a captive breeding population. In 1995, two additional lineages of pure Mexican wolves, held in captivity in the U.S., were integrated into the captive breeding program increasing the founder population to seven. From those first seven wolves, there is now a captive breeding program of around 300 Mexican wolves in 50 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.
The first eleven captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in 1998. We now have fourth generation pups whose great grandparents were also born in the wild. While the initial goal of 100 Mexican wolves in the wild hasn’t been reached, the population in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area has grown by nearly 40% – from 42 to 58 – in the last three years. This project has certainly captured the attention of all of us ...supporters and detractors both.
In February 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service appointed a Mexican Wolf Recovery Team, to update the 1982 Recovery Plan. This team is focusing on developing criteria that would lead to recovery and delisting of the Mexican wolf. While developing this new plan, the Recovery Team is continuing to work with partners to resolve conflicts that arise with the reestablishment of a predator on a working landscape. Learn from our speaker, Sherry Barrett, what issues they are encountering as they examine the current situation with the Mexican wolf.
Sherry Barrett spent nine years working as a Biologist for the Bureau of Reclamation in Phoenix before joining the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1990. Sherry subsequently worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Reno, Carlsbad, CA, and Tucson. In December 2010, Sherry moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is now the Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator. Sherry received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology at Northern Arizona University and her Master of Science degree in Zoology at Arizona State University.