Why is the MEXICAN GRAY WOLF in Danger of Extinction

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There are many species that have become extinct over the last centuries, and there are many others that today are in danger of extinction, such as some species of wolves. There are a large number of wolf species in the world, but in this Ecologist Green article we will focus on the Mexican gray wolf or Canis lupus baileyi and it will be explained why it is in danger of extinction, since it has been threatened since 1976 and its population decreases every year. But what exactly is the current situation of this species? Keep reading this interesting article if you want to discover why the Mexican gray wolf is in danger of extinction and how we can help it.

Characteristics of the Mexican gray wolf

Physically the Mexican gray wolf is small in size since it does not reach the meter and a half, being the smallest subspecies compared to the rest of the subspecies of wolves found in North America. Another of the characteristics of the Mexican gray wolf What stands out is the coat, since although its name indicates the color gray, in reality its coat is characterized by a color that ranges from yellowish brown to grayish brown.

The habitat of the Mexican gray wolf

The habitat of the Mexican gray wolf was distributed across North America. Concertedly, from the United States extending through the Sonoran Desert, Texas and central Arizona to Mexico, where it could be found mainly in areas of Chihuahua (north of the country), central and southern Mexico. The areas where they were distributed were characterized by having a mild weather, this species being found in desert and semi-arid areas and also in forests. Thus, this species occupied a large territory that today is very limited.

This species lives in herds with less than 12 members, consisting of the female, the male, other adults, the young and the young. Within the herd there are hierarchical relationships, as only the alpha female and the alpha male can mate. Each herd has its own territory marked with feces and urine, and they coexist cooperating with each other in order to reduce energy expenditure. Are nocturnal animals and carnivorous diet.

Why is the Mexican gray wolf in danger of extinction - causes

There are many causes that have made the Mexican gray wolf in danger of extinction. And these causes are caused by human actions. By way of summary, we can highlight two reasons that give an answer to why the Mexican gray wolf is in danger of extinction:

Hunting of the Mexican gray wolf and movement for food

The main cause that led the Mexican gray wolf to find itself in the status of "endangered" is due to the fact that both ranchers and authorities began a campaign to exterminate it. They hunted them indiscriminately and poisoned them to kill them in the area. The reason for this campaign was due to the fact that the Mexican gray wolf was forced to move from its habitat due to lack of prey. The Mexican gray wolf fed on sheep, hares, rodents, deer, wild pigs, deer, etc., and the reduction of these species by illegal hunting or due to the fragmentation and destruction of the environment, it led the Mexican gray wolf to look for its food in cattle. The campaign took effect, and in 1976 the Mexican gray wolf was declared a threatened species, since they had been totally eliminated in the wild.

Little genetic variability

Another cause should also be mentioned is the lack of genetic variabilityIn other words, since there are few specimens at the end, the wolves that remain end up reproducing among themselves, although they are all genetically very close individuals. As a consequence of these matings with genetics so directly related, a genetic inbreeding which is dangerous for new wolf specimens, since they can be born with recessive genetic diseases.

If you are interested in learning more about Mexican animals that are at risk of extinction or that are in the threatened category, you can take a look at this other article about 25 animals in danger of extinction in Mexico. Likewise, we also advise you to read this other post about Why the Iberian wolf is in danger of extinction and this one about the Animals in greater danger of extinction, among which is the Mexican gray wolf.

How to help the Mexican gray wolf - measurements

Currently exist about 520 specimens of the Mexican gray wolf, among which are 390 in captivity between Mexico and the United States. In addition, the United States has reached the figure of 100 specimens in the wild, while in Mexico there are barely 30 wild Mexican gray wolves.

In the 70s a plan was born to recover the mexican gray wolf, carried out by the United States and Mexico. This plan consisted of raising wolves in captivity to later set them free in the most favorable environment for their survival. To carry out this plan, different actions that both the population and the authorities have the obligation to comply with must be followed very strictly:

  • Above all, the population must be educated and made to understand how important it is to preserve species.
  • Establish hunting laws that protect the Mexican gray wolf, as well as regulatory laws for hunting species that are preyed upon by the wolf, since if these are reduced, the Mexican gray wolf moves to other places to look for food.
  • Conservation of the wolf's habitat, to avoid its destruction and fragmentation.
  • Follow a recovery in captivity with the conditions that the wolf needs to live.
  • Follow a breeding strategy to combat inbreeding.

It was not until 2014 when the first specimen born in a wild environment was recorded, after the recovery plan began. It is a long road, but thanks to the efforts of those responsible for this recovery plan, the Mexican gray wolf may have a second chance. But the rest of the population also have to become aware and take care of all the species that surround us, as well as their environment. Since when we accelerate or cause the extinction of species, in the end we are unbalancing the ecosystem in which they lived and we are also destroying the natural environment. Species interact with ecosystems, and if they are affected, ecosystems will also be affected, and vice versa.

To finish talking about the endangered mexican gray wolf and about what we can do to help this species, we want to recommend you read this other article by Green Ecologist on Why it is important to protect endangered animals and how to do it.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why is the Mexican gray wolf in danger of extinctionWe recommend that you enter our category of Endangered Animals.

  • Michelle Carrere. The return of the gray wolf to Mexican soil could make the rains return as well. Mongabay LATAM Independent Environmental Journalism. June 5, 2022.
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