Animal Conservation

Mexican gray wolf straying in New Mexico blocked by border wall

CITY OF SILVER, NM– In the first documented case of the US-Mexico border wall separating two endangered wolf populations, a Mexican gray wolf – likely in search of a new home and mate – has been stranded at the border in New -Mexico last month. The wolf’s GPS collar periodically reported its positions to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which reported them last week to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The wolf was born in the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and was named Mr. Goodbar before his 2020 release to the wild in Arizona. He spent November 23-27 surveying 23 miles of the border where the wall prevents wildlife from crossing.

“Sir. Goodbar’s Thanksgiving was desperate because he was thwarted by the romance of a female and the hunt for deer and hares together,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation attorney at the Center. “But beyond an animal’s frustrations, the wall separates southwest wolves from those of Mexico and exacerbates inbreeding in the two populations.”

On November 28, Mr. Goodbar headed northwest, away from the border. It was recently located further north, in the Gila National Forest where most Mexican wolves live.

The Trump administration has built walls even in remote areas of New Mexico, where few people cross illegally. Environmentalists have called for those walls to be removed and have identified priority sections of border areas for restoration, including where Mr Goodbar has been hampered.

Bollard-style walls obstruct the natural movement of wildlife. In addition to Mexican wolves, dozens of rare wildlife species that also need to roam live in this region of border regions, including dwarf foxes and ringtails.

In early 2017, during separate events, two wolves from Mexico entered the United States. One crossed where Mr. Goodbar could not later, then returned to Mexico. Two months later, another wolf entered Arizona and the Service captured it to appease the breeding industry. She is still in captivity and is the mother of Mr. Goodbar.

“President Biden should tear down the wall,” Robinson said. “Allowing the gray wolves of Mexico to roam free would do good beside the sublime Chihuahuan Desert and its lush mountains of heavenly islands. We cannot allow this austere monument of stupidity to slowly strangle a vast ecosystem. “

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From the early to mid-20th century, the US government exterminated wolves in the western United States on behalf of the breeding industry and also began poisoning wolves in Mexico. Saved by the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, a total of seven wild-caught Mexican gray wolves were successfully bred in captivity and their descendants were reintroduced to the United States in 1998 and to the United States. Mexico in 2011.

More than 200 Mexican wolves now live in the United States and about 40 in Mexico. But the genetic diversity of the American population has diminished. Both populations need genetic connectivity to survive long term.