The Arizona Game and Fish Department and our Wolf Team partners have had success placing captive-born wolf pups with wild packs to raise as their own. The practice, known as cross-fostering, helps to bolster the genetic diversity of wild wolf packs. Read morePhoenix, AZ.— In their native habitat of the southwestern United States, the success of cross-fostered pups among the Mexican wolf population is being documented due to dedicated and collaborative efforts among several agencies and organizations, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), the Endangered Wolf Center (EWC), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The organizations are working together to reintroduce the species to its native habitat in the American Southwest and Mexico.
In April 2016, five Mexican wolf pups were born at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. As part of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, two of the pups were placed in the den of the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves with the intention that the pack’s adults would raise the two with its own litter. In this process, known as “cross-fostering,” very young pups are moved from a captive litter to a wild litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as their own. The technique, which has proven successful with wolves and other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.