Wed, May 09, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Endangered wolves produce pups

HAPPY BIRTHDAY:With only 42 Mexican wolves in the wild and 324 in captivity, the litter of eight new pups represents a 2 percent increase in the species’ population

AP, WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK

Eight rare Mexican wolf pups have been born at a preserve in the New York City suburbs, a development that could aid the federal program that has reintroduced the endangered species to the wild.

The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem announced on Monday that five males and three females were born on Sunday to the Mexican wolves known as F749 and M740.

A video on the center’s Web site showed a furry gray mass of tiny pups, some of them making small noises. The online announcement said the pups were no bigger than a potato.

“It’s always a good day when we learn of the birth of an endangered species,” said Peter Siminski, coordinator of the Mexican wolf program for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “Eight new pups in a world population of around 366 is a 2 percent increase.”

Siminski said there are an -estimated 42 Mexican wolves in the wild and 324 in captivity.

The wild wolves are kept along the New Mexico-Arizona state line under the federal program that reintroduced them to the wild in 1998.

To maintain genetic diversity, that population is restocked from pups born to the wolves kept in captivity, including those at the Wolf Conservation Center, which is 72km from midtown Manhattan.

“This is an important accomplishment for the Wolf Conservation Center because of all the careful planning and preparation that goes into the birth of a litter,” Siminski said.

If any of the new pups are selected for introduction to the wild, it will not be soon. Siminski said chosen wolves would likely be sent to a pre-release facility, paired with opposite-sex wolves and allowed to raise pups themselves before being sent out.

The parents were selected as a breeding pair under the federal program’s genetic standards designed to limit inbreeding.

“These pups are not only adorable, they’re also great contributions to the recovery of their species,” Monday’s announcement said.

It said all eight appeared to be healthy.

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