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As Annual Count Begins, Officials Expect Population Growth Among Mexican Wolves

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Arizona Game and Fish Department this month will begin its annual count of Mexican gray wolves. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the agency anticipates a growth in the population of the endangered animals.

State wildlife officials say they expect an increase in wolf numbers for the fourth year in a row. A year ago, they determined that at least 83 wolves were roaming eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, an increase of three wolves from the previous year.

Game and Fish biologists will conduct aerial surveys through January within the 4.4 million-acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the range of the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona. But, it also gave heightened ability for officials and members of the public to kill the animals if found attacking livestock.

Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced to the Southwest in 1998. Since then, illegal killings of the animals have hampered the program. Last month, a breeding male from the Rim Pack was found dead in eastern Arizona, and in October, two wolves were found dead in New Mexico. The incidents are under investigation.

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