Facts about Mexican Gray Wolfs. "Scientific name for Mexican Gray Wolf is Canis lupus baileyi". The Mexican Gray Wolf is the smallest subspecies of Gray Wolf in North America. While the Mexican Gray Wolf is called the Mexican Ray Wolf or Lobo, its range is included in both the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
Appearance of Mexican Gray Wolf
The Mexican Gray Wolf species name is Canis lupus baileyi. The Mexican Gray Wolf is a gray wolf species. However, the death of large prey in its area caused selective pressure toward smaller animals.
The Mexican Gray Wolf or lobo is not only gray but beige, rust, cream, and sometimes has patches of white. Its mixture of gray with other colors helps it blend into the mountain forests it calls home.
Physical Characteristics of Mexican Gray Wolf
At fifty to eighty five pounds (22.6 to 36.3 kg) each, the Mexican Gray Wolf is the size of a large domestic dog like a German Shepherd. Males are larger than the females. The Mexican Gray Wolf matures in one to two years and can live up to ten years old in the wild.
Mexican Gray Wolves, while smaller than their kin, are the dominant predators in their ecosystem.
Behavior of Mexican Gray Wolf
The Mexican Gray Wolf is a wolf and acts like one. Mexican Gray Wolves howl at the moon, mark their territory with urine, and otherwise act like their larger kin.
One of the biggest differences between the Mexican Gray Wolf and its northern cousins is the composition of the pack. The Mexican Gray Wolf lives in packs consisting of the mated dominant pair, their litter born around April, and one or two yearling pups from last year’s litter. The group may only be two parents and two pups or as many as two parents, two yearlings and five pups. However, packs are rarely more than six to eight animals, while northern wolves travel in packs of up to forty animals.
Another behavioral difference of the Mexican Gray Wolf is the diet. Mexican Gray Wolves eat more small prey like rabbits, simply due to availability. Mexican Gray Wolves do hunt animals like elk, deer, and wild sheep in packs but do so less because there are fewer large animals in their territory. Mexican Gray Wolves are much more likely to scavenge carcasses than other wolves, because this is easier than hunting and more food is available that way.
All wolves will feed on livestock if they are not wary of the humans protecting the animals, and Mexican Gray Wolves are no exception. Their predation on livestock like cattle in the late 1800s led to their near extinction in the 1900s as ranchers used traps and poisoned carcasses to kill the wolves.
Habitat and Range of Mexican Gray Wolf
The Mexican Gray Wolf once lived in the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas. After ranging spread into the area, the Mexican Gray Wolf’s habit of scavenging carcasses led it to feed on dead livestock and eventually start killing livestock. Ranchers responded with poisoned carcasses and traps to kill the Mexican Gray Wolf. At one point, the population dropped to less than sixty animals.
A captive breeding program has raised those numbers to around 300 in captivity and more than a hundred in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is located near the mouth of the Gila River, surrounded by the Gila National Forest, a national park twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. The nearby Apache reservation stated that it welcomes the return of the wolves, and the tribe agreed it will not kill the animals. Ranchers on and off the reservation can request compensation for animals killed by the wolves, an incentive to tolerate the occasional livestock kill instead of killing the wolves themselves.
Trivia about Mexican Gray Wolf
There have not been any Mexican Gray Wolf sightings in Mexico since 1980.