10×14 watercolor enhanced colored pencil. Original available. Photographic reference from M. Dulaney.
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The Mexican Wolf is the rarest, most genetically distinct subspecies of the Gray Wolf in North America.
It is also the smallest grey wolf subspecies present in North America, reaching an overall length no greater than 135 centimetres (53 inches) and a maximum height of about 80 cm (31 in). Weight ranges from 27 to 45 kilograms (60–100 pounds).
History’ Until recent times, the Mexican Wolf ranged the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from central Mexico to western Texas, southern New Mexico, and central Arizona. By the turn of the 20th century, reduction of natural prey like deer and elk caused many wolves to begin attacking domestic livestock, which led to intensive efforts by government agencies and individuals to eradicate the Mexican Wolf. Hunters also hunted down the wolf because it killed deer. Trappers and private trappers have also helped in the eradication of the Mexican Wolf. (Note that recent studies completed by genetics experts show evidence of Mexican wolves ranging as far north as Colorado).
These efforts were very successful, and by the 1950s, the Mexican Wolf had been eliminated from the wild. In 1976, the Mexican Wolf was declared an endangered subspecies and has remained so ever since. Today, an estimated 200 Mexican Wolves survive in the wild.
Reintroduction to the Southwest In March 1998, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began reintroducing Mexican Wolves into the Blue Range area of Arizona. The overall objective of this program was to reestablish 100 Mexican Wolves in the Apache and Gila National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico by 2005.
On March 30 1998, government biologists released 11 gray wolves — 3 adult males, 3 adult females, 3 female pups and yearlings and 2 male pups — from 3 chain-link acclimation pens within the 7,000-square-mile, federally designated Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in east-central Arizona.
A population count completed by the Interagency Field Team (IFT) in the winter of 2006–2007 estimated 60 wolves living in the recovery area in several packs. (info from Wikipedia)