The Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo. collaborated with the U S Fish and Wildlife Service to fly two newborn Mexican Gray Wolf pups from the Center in St. Louis to gray wolf territory in New Mexico. The pups were born April 15, 2016 in St. Louis and given the names Lindbergh (mp1461) after the famous aviator and Vida (fp1462).

Placing captive born Mexican wolves into a den of wild wolves has never been tried before, and marks the first time for the cross-fostering of Mexican Gray Wolves. Under the care of Regina Mossetti (Director of Care and Conservation at EWC) and Emma Miller of the Endangered Wolf Center, the pups were flown safe, warm and sound to New Mexico.

The wolf pups were released into the den of the “Sheepherders Baseball Park” Pack in the wolves’ territory in Cantron County, New Mexico. The new wild father of the pups is M1284 (collared) and the mom is M1392, who already had her own litter of five pups.

The adoption of captive wolf pups into a wild pack is a careful undertaking as the wolf pups from both the captive and wild mates should not be more than a few days apart in age. The transfer of the pups from captivity to wild should, in general, take place before the pups are ten days old. These challenging requirements make for even more challenging logistics of a known wild wolf den, timing, weather, terrain and travel.

“Two nine-day-old Mexican wolf pups were moved from the more genetically diverse captive population and placed into a den with a similarly aged litter in the wild,” Fish and Wildlife said in its own statement. “The intent is for these newly released pups to be raised in the wild by experienced wolves and ultimately contribute to the gene diversity of the wild population by becoming successful, breeding adults.”

If the trial fostering induced by the USFWS proves to be a successful adoption by the wild mated pair of Mexican Gray Wolves of the SBP pack, it will provide a boost to the whole of the wild population of Mexican Gray Wolves as well as much needed genetic diversity to the less than 100 (97 in 2016) wolves currently in the wild. According to the last count, 47 of the 97 are found in New Mexico, in the Gila National Forest.