New Mexico Project
Population dynamics and reintroduction characteristics of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico’s Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area
October 2011 - September 2015
- James Cain, Principal Investigator
- John Oakleaf, Co-Principal Investigator
- Stewart Breck, Non-PI Collaborator
- Science Support Partnerships
The Blue Range population of Mexican wolves, although successfully established in1998, is not thriving. Between 1998 and 2003 the actual minimum population of Mexican wolves in the BRWRA closely tracked with population projections in the 1996 Final Environmental Impact Statement. From 2004 through 2010, the minimum population count has not reached FEIS projections or shown continued steady growth. Over the last seven years, the population size has hovered around the halfway point of the population target of at least 100 wolves. Yet, data from the reintroduction project has not been rigorously analyzed to help elucidate potential modifications for the project or describe best management practices for this population. In addition, the Mexican wolf project is currently developing a new recovery plan for the Mexican wolves, which will likely require additional reintroductions to occur for recovery objectives to be met. Scientific analysis of the data should help guide future reintroduction efforts in other areas and allow for comparison with disparate populations to further our understanding of Mexican wolf biology across their range. The objectives of this study are to investigate: (1) habitat colonization preferences of Mexican wolves and the distribution of preferred wolf habitat across the southwestern U.S., (2) factors that promote successful initial releases and translocations of Mexican wolves, (3) factors that contribute to increased reproduction rates, (4) survival of Mexican wolves, and (5) dispersal patterns of Mexican wolves. Ultimately these factors will be incorporated into a population model to determine scenarios that increase or decrease population vigor.