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Game and Fish Study Concludes Most Mexican Gray Wolf Territory South of the Border

Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

State wildlife managers have released a study highlighting the historical range of endangered Mexican gray wolves. It contends the animal’s territory was almost entirely in Mexico, but as KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, some conservation groups are skeptical of the findings. 

The authors used ecological and other evidence to determine 90 percent of the wolf’s habitat was in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The paper, co-written by an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist, argues releasing Mexican gray wolves in northern Arizona would risk them breeding with other wolf species.

But groups like the Sierra Cluband the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Projectdispute the paper. They say areas north of Interstate-40 and on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are crucial for their recovery.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a new management plan that would limit the animal’s range to southern Arizona and New Mexico. There were at least 113 Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest at last count. 

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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