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First Litter of Mexican Gray Wolves Raises Hope of Recovery

Jul 18, 2014 10:36 AM EDT

The first known litter of Mexican gray wolves was reportedly found, Mexico City officials said Thursday, raising hope that this endangered species is on its way to recovery.

Mexico's National Commission for Natural Protected Areas says the wolf pups were sighted in June by a team of researchers in the western Sierra Madre Mountains, according to The Associated Press.

The gray wolf had almost completely disappeared from the wild in Mexico three decades ago, and this new litter is part of a reintroduction program to bring them back to the area and reverse their endangered status.

These beautiful animals were nearly wiped out in the US Southwest because of hunting, poisoning and trapping, Uncover California reports. As a part of the reintroduction program, the first wolves were released into the wild in Southwest in 1998, focusing mainly on Arizona and New Mexico.

Now, a US Fish and Wildlife Service survey says that as of January 83 of these wolves roam throughout Arizona and New Mexico.

However, regardless of recovery efforts, this exotic predator remains an endangered species and requires continuous efforts so that more litters can grow.

Mexico began reintroducing wolves in 2011 and the parents of this litter had been released in December with the hopes that they would reproduce. To protect the endangered species, authorities withhold the exact location of breeding pairs in recovery programs.

The last five survivors in the United States were captured between 1977 and 1980 and then they were bred in captivity. Mexico's National Commission for Natural Protected Areas says that these pups appear to be doing well.

Just last month, two gray wolf pups were also sighted in California, likely the offspring of OR-7, the young male wolf that back in 2011 starting wandering between Oregon and Northern California.

In light of the resurgence of the gray wolf, the state of California also granted the species an endangered listing recently, voted by the state's Fish and Game Commission.

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