TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A pair of Mexican gray wolves will be released today and next week into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department, the pair released today consists of a male and female. Both will be paired in a pen on the Apache National forest.
The wolves were held in the enclosure through the breeding season, which occurs in February and March.
The second pair will be released next week into the primary recovery zone in Apache National Forest.
"This release follows through on a commitment made by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to support the release of wolves to replace those lost from illegal shootings," said chairman John W. Harris of the commission.
The two female wolves were selected from the captive breeding population to increase genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.
"We anticipate the release of these two pregnant females from captivity will have a higher chance of success because they are paired with males that already have extensive wild experience," said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service's Southwest Regional Director. "The genetic value of the two females will help us as we move toward establishing a more genetically robust population of wild wolves."
The IFT will monitor the wolves after release and, if necessary, provide supplemental food while the wolves acclimate to the area and transition to catching native prey.
The reintroduction is collaborative effort of the AGFD, Service, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, and several participating counties in Arizona.