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MO: St. Louis wildlife facility sends Mexican wolf pups to Arizona, New Mexico to help save the species

Author: Kayla Wheeler

EUREKA, Mo. — The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka recently flew nine Mexican wolf pups to Arizona to be fostered by three separate wolf packs in New Mexico and Arizona in order to save the species.

This is the first time nine pups born in captivity have been “adopted out” from one facility in a season, according to a press release.

The nine pups contributed to making 2020 a record-breaking foster season, the center said in the release. Twenty pups total were placed in the wild this spring from five different zoos and conservation facilities, which is a 66% increase over the previous highest year.

Since captive-to-wild foster efforts started in 2016, 50 captive pups have been placed into wild dens, the release said. More than half of those pups were born at the Endangered Wolf Center.

“The Mexican wolf is one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world, and pushing fosters forward is vital to saving this amazing wolf,” said Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center. “As always, this foster was a great example of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Species Survival Plan and the states working together to seize a unique opportunity to help Mexican wolves.”

Fostering is a conservation strategy that takes wolf pups born in one litter and places them with another litter in the wild. The hope is that the wolf mother will adopt the new additions as her own, with the goal of increasing genetic diversity.

The center said there are fewer than 200 Mexican wolves left in the wild. They said the Mexican wolf is a keystone species, meaning the ecosystem and the plants and animals in it rely on the wolves to keep it in balance.

“Understanding how human health is linked to our ecosystem’s health shines a light on the importance of these foster efforts,” said Virginia Busch, CEO of the Endangered Wolf Center. “Now more than ever we need to prioritize restoring damaged ecosystems, saving endangered species and protecting our remaining wildlife and wildlands.”