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A “legendary” female wolf known for birthing dozens pups has mysteriously resurfaced in Arizona after vanishing in 2018, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Known only as 1042, the Mexican wolf has survived in the wild for 14 years — nearly double the life expectancy of her species — including nine years as an “alpha female,” wildlife officials posted Monday on Facebook.
During that period, 1042 produced 40 pups, “the most wolf pups of any wolf in the U.S. Mexico wolf population,” the federal wildlife agency said.
Mexican wolves are “the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America,” with a propensity for “numerous vocalizations” and a knack for bringing down prey “much larger” than their 50- to 80-pound frame, wildlife experts say.
They live six to eight years on average, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Wolf 1042 was born in 2006 in Arizona’s Apache National Forest and became an “alpha female” three years later, officials say. The forest is 2 million acres of “magnificent mountain country in east-central Arizona,” Stateparks.com reports.
The wolf “remained the alpha female of the Bluestem pack until 2018, when biologists could no longer locate her,” wildlife officials said.
Why she vanished and where she went is unknown, but 1042 resurfaced Nov. 15, appearing on a trail camera “roaming around her old home range,” officials said. She appeared healthy but had a clearly visible injury to her left ear “likely from hunting or during a conflict with another wolf.”
Of her 40 pups, 16 “went on to become breeding wolves in packs of their own. As of 2020, eight of her offspring remain breeding alpha wolves in the current population,” officials said.