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Conservation Groups Want Three Mexican Gray Wolf Packs Released into the Wild

Chicago Zoological Society

Twenty five environmental groups are calling on federal wildlife officials to release three captive-raised Mexican gray wolf packs into the wild. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they say the endangered population needs increased genetic diversity to survive.

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and other groups want Mexican wolf mating pairs and their pups released into New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness this summer. They say most wild wolves in the Southwest are closely related to each other, which limits reproduction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges the problem, but in recent years has released wolves primarily by placing captive-born pups in wild dens—so-called cross-fostering.

But only two out of ten pups are confirmed to have survived the process in 2016 and 2017. Eight pups were cross-fostered this spring.

Fish and Wildlife managers say it’s a successful strategy for improving genetic diversity. They’ll put out a proposal later this year detailing wolf release plans for 2019.

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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