Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Assessment of Population Size and Prey Selection Patterns of Mexican Gray Wolves on the San Carlos Apache and Fort Apache Indian Reservations, Arizona

January 2009 - December 2017


Participating Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

To estimate the minimum population size, identify unique individuals, and investigate prey selection of wolves through analyses of DNA recovered from scat. The reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves in the southwest has been, and continues to be, extremely controversial. Reliable estimates of reintroduced Mexican gray wolves are unknown. Currently, the FWS speculates that there could be anywhere from 35 to 50 wolves existing in the wild with only 22 having radio-collars. A major concern expressed by stakeholders associated with the Mexican Wolf Program is that the number of wolves in the wild is much greater than the numbers reported by the FWS. Of particular interest to the FWS is the number of wolves on the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian Reservations. In any wildlife reintroduction, the desire is to reach a point at which the wild population no longer needs enhancement by release of captive individuals. Captive releases are costly in terms of time, money, and other resources. Thus, a population estimate of wolves on the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian Reservations will provide valuable information to the FWS regarding management of the Mexican wolf program.