The Saga of El Lobo – A conversation with David Parsons about the Issues and Future of the Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

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The Saga of El Lobo – A conversation with David Parsons about the Issues and Future of the Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf
By David R. Parsons, Carnivore Conservation Biologist, The Rewilding Institute; and Science Advisor, Project Coyote.
Thursday March 3, 2022

The federal government predator eradication programs began in the early 1900s and by the mid-1900s they had been effective in killing all Mexican gray wolves in the wild throughout their entire historic range in the southwestern U.S. The Endangered Species Act was passed just in time to save the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America from certain extinction. Following years of captive breeding by only 7 surviving founders, analyses of release sites, development of reintroduction proposals, and public reviews, the first eleven Lobos were released into the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona in 1998. Since then, about 150 Mexican wolves have been released and the current wild population inhabiting suitable habitats in Arizona and New Mexico is estimated to be a minimum of 186 Lobos at the end of 2020. 

The two main threats to this population are limited genetic diversity and excessive human-caused mortality. The future of lobos is uncertain. Join David Parsons for a conversation about the history, issues, and future of lobos in the Southwest. 

David Parsons is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where from 1990-1999 he led the USFWS’s effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to portions of its former range in the Southwest. His interests include the ecology and conservation of large carnivores, protection of biodiversity, and wildlands conservation. He is the Carnivore Conservation Biologist for The Rewilding Institute and a science advisor for Project Coyote. He has received the New Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s annual “Professional Award,” the North American Wolf Conference “Alpha Award” for outstanding achievement and leadership toward the recovery of Mexican wolves, the Wilburforce Foundation “Outstanding Conservation Leadership Award,” and the Sky Island Alliance “Mike Seidman Memorial Award” for conservation achievements. He received his B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University and his M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University. 

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New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science 1801 Mountain Rd NW, ABQ •

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1 comment on “The Saga of El Lobo – A conversation with David Parsons about the Issues and Future of the Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

  1. It saddens me to see that there’s not even one reply on “The Saga of El Lobo” the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf. When I was a young child my dad and mom took us to see the Lobo Wolves, sheltered and saved in Kane, PA by a local physician, Dr. Edward H. McCleery. That there is no mention of Dr. Edward Heber McCleery of Kane, Pennsylvania is known for saving the last of the western United States wolves – which he called “lobo wolves” – from extinction is to leave out a big part of the history of the Lobo Wolves.

    Seeing them as a child was awe inspiring. I remember how our usual rambunctious family of 6 stood in silence as our eyes gazed upon the historical Lobo Wolves. It had a lasting impression on me, as I am now a 66-year-old grandma, writing a story letter to two of my grandchildren who are always asking me to tell them stories from my childhood. Sadly, they cannot physically see the Lobo Wolves of Kane, PA because they no longer exist. However, they can ‘see’ them through my eyes.

    Thank you for allowing me to leave a reply here about my memories of seeing the Lobo Wolves of Kane, PA. While they are no longer alive you can click on the link I am providing and learn about their rich history in Kane, PA.

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