Watch: Cross-fostering helps recover Mexican wolves

Pups born in captivity are reared in the wild

To help Mexican wolves recover in the American Southwest, wildlife managers have relied on cross-fostering—taking wolf pups born in captivity and releasing them into dens in the wild. The effort has helped increase the genetic diversity of Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyii), which have all descended from just seven wolves.

“It’s like computer dating,” said Maggie Dwire, deputy Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Wolf pairs are matched from a variety of captive populations across the country. When the pups are born, they’re placed with packs where biologists believe they are most likely to succeed.

“When you put that pup in the den and walk away, you known you’ve done something serious for the conservation of the Mexican wolf,” said Jim Devos, Mexican wolf coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

For more, watch the AZGFD video below:

Header Image: Biologists take Mexican wolf pups that were born in captivity to be raised in wild dens. Credit: Arizona Game and Fish Department