Elk NetworkResearch: Ninety Percent of Mexican Wolf Range was in Mexico

Conservation | October 1, 2017

A recent peer-reviewed scientific paper reaffirmed 90 percent of the historical range of the Mexican wolf was south of the United States-Mexico border.

“Most sources prior to the mid-1990s were in agreement and defined the historical range of the Mexican wolf as southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and portions of Mexico. Of this historical range, 10 percent occurs in the United States and the remainder in Mexico,” stated authors James R. Heffelfinger, Ronald M. Nowak and David Paetkau.

The paper was the featured article published in the July issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management, a leading international wildlife science journal. The authors – each a reputable expert in his respective field – included a skull morphologist, internationally known geneticist and an Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) biologist.

The data illustrate that Mexico is critical for wolf recovery, given that 90 percent of the animal’s historical range and extensive high-quality habitat is found south of the border. Introducing Mexican wolves too far north of their historical range runs the risk of “genetic swamping” by the larger Northern Rockies wolves, said Heffelfinger.

Read the full paper here.

(Photo source: US Fish & Wildlife Service)