08:22 PM

For Immediate Release

Annual Mexican Wolf Count Emphasizes Need for Continued Recovery Efforts

TUCSON, Ariz. (April 8, 2019) - Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released the official Mexican gray wolf population count for November 2018 through January 2019. According to the count, there are 131 individual wolves and 32 packs of two or more animals in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, which is up from last year’s count.

Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“It is encouraging to see wolf population numbers increase, however, recovery efforts for the Mexican gray wolf are still far from adequate. While we appreciate the genuine commitment of all the partner groups, this past year has been the deadliest for Mexican wolves since 2016. It is clear more can be done, including the release of well-bonded adult pairs and limiting losses from trapping and illegal killing.

“The Mexican gray wolf is an important part of the Southwestern ecosystem and we must do what we can to ensure the species is protected.”


  • The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the Southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon regions.
  • The wolves included in the count announced today are the result of a reintroduction program that began in 1998 with the release of family groups of well-bonded male and female pairs and their pups.
  • A federal judge in April 2018 rejected provisions in a 2015 federal management rule that unlawfully imposed roadblocks to recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf. The rule arbitrarily limited the lobos’ population numbers, banned them from needed recovery habitat, and loosened the rules against killing the animals in the wild.
  • According to USFWS information, 21 wolves were killed last year in 2018. At least 42 Mexican gray wolves have been caught in traps since 2003, four in Arizona and the remainder in New Mexico. 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.