Rare, endangered Mexican wolf spotted in New Mexico national park

The last documented Mexican wolf sighting in Valles Caldera occurred more than 90 years ago in 1932, according to the National Park Service.

JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. – On Thursday, the National Park Service announced a rare sighting of the endangered Mexican wolf at Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico.

The last documented Mexican wolf sighting in Valles Caldera occurred more than 90 years ago, in 1932, according to the NPS.

The most recent sightings began on Nov. 11, park officials said. The wolf spotted was a female known to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as "F2754," which they had fitted with a radio collar in the fall of 2022.

The wolf is also known informally as "Asha."

Asha arrived at Valles Caldera in northern New Mexico after traveling from the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, which covers part of southern New Mexico.

"We were thrilled to see the brief visit of a wolf to this landscape," said Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, superintendent of Valles Caldera National Preserve.


"The park’s ecosystem used to be home to Mexican wolf," he added. "The elevation, abundant rainfall, mixed conifer forests, and deep, rich soils make the park an ideal place to support a great diversity of animals, including wolves."

The endangered Mexican wolf

The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America, according to the FWS. They were historically found throughout the desert Southwest but were nearly brought to extinction in the wild by the 1970s.

In 1976, the Mexican wolf was listed on the Endangered Species Act, and efforts have since been made to help the population rebound.

"Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States," the FWS said.

Helping the Mexican wolf population rebound

Asha, the Mexican wolf that was recently spotted in Valles Caldera, is part of the repopulation efforts. After she left the preserve on Dec. 9, New Mexico Game and Fish officials captured Asha and transferred her to a facility where she has been paired with a male.


"Our decision to capture F2754 was made out of concern for her safety and well-being," said Brady McGee, Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator.

"Dispersal events like this are often in search of a mate," McGee noted. "As there are no other known wolves in the area, [Asha] was unlikely to be successful, and risked being mistaken for a coyote and shot. By pairing her with a carefully selected mate in captivity, we are hoping she will breed and have pups this spring."

He noted that the best outcome for Asha is to be released back into the wild, where she and her offspring can contribute to the recovery of the Mexican wolf population.


The Mexican wolf is the most genetically distinct and smallest of the gray wolf subspecies, the NPS said. The wolves usually weigh between 50 and 80 pounds, measuring about five and a half feet from nose to tail and standing about 28–32 inches at the shoulder.