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Wolf Gifts

Wolves have bulky coats consisting of two layers. The first layer is made up of tough guard hairs that repel water and dirt. The second is a dense, water-resistant undercoat that insulates. The undercoat is shed in the form of large tufts of fur in late spring or early summer (with yearly variations). A wolf will often rub against objects such as rocks and branches to encourage the loose fur to fall out.

Grey Wolf

Once roaming proudly through the landscapes of New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and the country of Mexico, the Mexican gray wolf has sadly almost been wiped out of existence in the United States and Mexico. Fortunately, agencies in both countries have allocated part of their resources and initiated recovery and restoration efforts including New Mexico.

Wolves were abundant in the area until the early 20th century when humans started settling in great numbers in the area. Being natural predators, wolves threatened the livestock and other resources of these settlers as well as directly threatening the humans themselves. For 70 years, the human settlers devoted considerable amount of resources to exterminate the animals. The gray wolves were furiously hunted down and eliminated until only a few remained. As a result, the Mexican wolf was placed among the other endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The act was passed in 1973, and three years later, the human attitude towards the gray wolf took a complete reversal. Humans specifically took on a gentler outlook towards the gray wolf and conspired to save the species from the brink of extinction, which they brought upon the animal themselves. Restoration of the gray wolves to New Mexico is now a priority.

Recovery Begins

Recovery and restoration efforts in New Mexico began in 1977 with the bi-national captive breeding program between the United States and Mexico. Under this program, Mexican gray wolves in Mexico were to be captured and bred to increase their population. These wolves would then be reintroduced to the wild after a few years. The program aimed to breed at least a hundred of these animals before restoration of the wolves to the wild. The restoration plan was given the green light by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service five years after the agreement was entered into by the US and Mexico. These countries now use their resources for restoring the wolves back where they belong.

While the wolves were being bred in captivity, the parties were also busy selecting a place ideal for restoration of the animals back into their natural habitats. A recommendation was made in 1996 suggesting two areas: the Apache and Gila national forests. The former was in the eastern Arizona area, while latter is in New Mexico's western regions. This recommendation was approved by the Secretary of the Interior in March 1997.

Behavioral Management Prior to Being Released

Since animals that have been bred in captivity have the tendency to become minimally domesticated, a system was put in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure that the animals were able to adjust to their life in the wild after restoration to their natural habitats. These measures involved pre-release captive facilities and resources where they were made to adjust to their new life in the wild.

These facilities are designed to simulate the feel of being in the wild, so wolves can acclimate. Humans in New Mexico have minimal contact with the wolves. This is to train them not to get used to human contact and train them to avoid possible contact, to protect human resources and property. Wolves are also taught independence as well as how to associate with other wolves, which would not be possible if they are placed in a cage and unable to exercise pack behavior. These behaviors include breeding, taking care of wolf pups as well as hunting for food resources in their natural habitat.

About the Author
Samson Paulotti writes about what's important for homeowners for Restoration Industry Resources and The Restoration Resource New Mexico




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