Missouri wildlife officials have placed six Mexican wolf pups born in captivity near St. Louis with two packs in the wild, in a new effort to repopulate the critically endangered species.
Three members of the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri, flew with the 11-day-old pups to Phoenix on April 18. From there, the pups were taken to packs in Arizona and New Mexico. Center officials say the placement increases the wild population and adds needed genetic diversity.
Mexican wolves once numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the Southwest. Hunting and habitat loss led to near-extinction. The last seven wolves were captured and taken to the Endangered Wolf Center in the 1970s in an effort to save the species.
Today, about 150 of the wolves live in the wild.