The Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered wolf species in North America. This one lives on a private ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Photograph by Jorge E. Vallina, MyShot
  • The Mexican gray wolf (sometimes just called the Mexican wolf or lobo) is an endangered species. Prior to the 20th century, the subspecies, smaller than other North American wolves, roamed from central Mexico to as far north as the U.S. state of Colorado.

    But, as human settlement intensified across the Southwest in the early 1900s, wolves increasingly came into conflict with livestock operations and other human activities. Private, state, and federal extermination campaigns were waged against the wolf until, by the 1970s, the Mexican gray wolf faced extinction. The wolves were targeted because they preyed on sheep, cattle, and goats, as well as traditional prey such as deer and elk.

    Beginning in 1998, wolves from captive-breeding programs in the United States and Mexico were released in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona and Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The wolves reintroduced to these national forests are called an "non-essential experimental population."

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    captive-breeding program Noun

    plans, research, and work done by an organization, such as a zoo, to control reproduction of rare species in that organization's facilities (not in the wild).

    cattle Noun

    cows and oxen.

    endangered species Noun

    organism threatened with extinction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species
    experimental population Noun

    group of threatened or endangered species reintroduced to a designated area.

    exterminate Verb

    to completely destroy.

    extinction Noun

    process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    livestock noun, plural noun

    animals raised for sale and profit.

    prey Noun

    animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

    prior Adjective

    before or ahead of.

    reintroduce Verb

    to return members of a species to their historical range.

    roam Verb

    to wander or travel over a wide area without a specific destination.

    wolf Noun

    mammal related to the dog.