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On the surface, things seemed to be looking up for the entire Mexican wolf population.In 1998, after Mexican wolves were poisoned and shot out of existence here, the Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 wolves, with the initial goal of growing their numbers to 100.
He was blindfolded and muzzled, and compulsively licked his dark nose. Hands gloved in black latex, a few of them jockeyed around the table, drawing blood, administering vaccines, measuring the wolf’s long, pearly canines, and swabbing the dart wound on his rump. His “name” was M1296, “M” for male, and biologists caught him in order to replace his radio collar. In April 2013, he stepped in a trap set for coyotes on private land in New Mexico, and it took biologists three hours to reach him. He just looked terrible,” recalled Julia Smith, who works out of this field office for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.Inbreeding can cause dangerous disorders, depress fertility, and even make small populations more vulnerable to extinction.But right now, the Southwest’s Mexican wolves don’t have much choice.So long as there are animals to eat — moose, elk, deer, javelina, antelope, salmon — and water to drink, wolves will do just fine. Mexican wolves were an exception to this rule in one sense: The animals weren’t actually easy.When Fish and Wildlife reintroduced their larger cousins in the Northern Rockies, the agency was able to draw on robust, wild Canadian populations.