04:05 PM

For Immediate Release

Study Confirms Taxonomic Validity of the Mexican Gray Wolf

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2019) – Today the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released an evaluation confirming the Mexican gray wolf as a valid taxonomic subspecies of gray wolf. The evaluation found Mexican gray wolves are distinct from other North American gray wolves morphologically, paleontologically, genetically, genomically, behaviorally, and ecologically. The findings have positive implications for the continued protection of the wolf under the Endangered Species Act and future recovery efforts in the Southwestern United States.

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

“This study confirms that the Mexican gray wolf is a genetically valid subspecies that deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. As one of the most endangered mammals in North America, the lobo needs federal protection to guarantee recovery and all of the positive impacts the wolves have on ecosystems.”


  • The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. At last count, only 114 Mexican wolves survived in the Southwest in a single, small population occupying the Blue Range of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. This population is beset by numerous threats, including widespread illegal killing as well as inbreeding caused by inadequate releases of more genetically diverse wolves from a captive population.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.