There are many questions surrounding the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program. This section aims to answer commonly asked questions.
Mexican Gray Wolf and Human Interaction
Q: Has a Mexican gray wolf attacked a human?
A: No, there have been no incidents of a free-ranging Mexican gray wolf attacking or injuring a person. In fact, no wolf has attacked a human in the lower 48 states. There have been wolf attacks and deaths in Alaska and Canada. Wolves are wild animals and it is best to avoid when possible. More information on wolf/human interactions and attacks on people.
Q: Are Mexican gray wolves more dangerous to people since they are handled more regularly by humans than other wolf populations?
A: Biologists look for avoidance and fear of humans as one of the primary characteristics when selecting Mexican gray wolves for release. Before release, wolves are managed with minimal exposure to humans and conditioned to become more fearful of humans.
Q: If a Mexican gray wolf is threatening a person or family pet, can the wolf be killed?
A: If a person is attacked by any endangered species, including a Mexican gray wolf, the animal can be taken (killed). If a family pet is attacked by a Mexican gray wolf, or any endangered species, the wolf cannot be taken. More information on legal and illegal activity.
Q: If a Mexican gray wolf dies on a person’s property, is that person liable for the death of the animals?
A: A wildlife autopsy is performed on all deceased Mexican gray wolves. If the death is ruled suspicious, then the incident will be investigated to determine how the wolf died.
Mexican Gray Wolf Maximum Numbers
Q: Is there a maximum number of wolves that will be allowed in the wild?
A: There is currently no cap on the total number of Mexican gray wolves in the wild. Like most predator-prey relationships, the number of wolves is influenced by elk populations. Initial research has found that 3 wolves per 1000 elk is sustainable for elk. Given Arizona’s elk population, the number of wolves that could be maintained is about 150. With the current Mexican wolf populations (at least 83 wolves), elk populations have not been impacted. More information on the Mexican gray wolf and the elk population.
Mexican Gray Wolf Health
Q: Do the Mexican gray wolves have infectious diseases that could transfer to humans, pets, or livestock?
A: Mexican gray wolves released into the wild are vaccinated against diseases and, once in the wild, the animals are intensively monitored for diseases and parasites. Like other wildlife, Mexican wolves are susceptible to many of the same diseases that can affect domestic dogs, coyotes, or other members of the dog family. More information on the Mexican gray wolf and infectious disease.
Q: What can be done about the genetic diversity problem?
A: Expanding the release area to parts of the Tonto and Gila National Forests would allow more genetically diverse animals from the captive breeding population into the wild population. Another strategy for increasing diversity is cross-fostering, which moves very young pups from one litter to a different, similar-age litter with the hope that the receiving pack will raise the young as their own. More information on cross-fostering.