Conservation efforts to protect the lobo mexicano in Mexico and the United States are paying off. The Mexican wolf, which has been on the extinct species list for years, has been taken off the list thanks to conservation and breeding efforts that began in the late 1970s when former wolf trapper Roy T. McBride was commissioned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a survey of wolves in Mexico.

The survey became a trapping mission with the aim of starting a captive breeding program for the critically endangered mammal, and by 1980 McBride had captured five wolves. Three of them became the founders of what came to be known as the McBride lineage of Mexican wolves. By 1995, about 100 McBride wolves had been born in the United States.

Later, eight wolves born in captivity in the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City and 22 others that were privately owned in the United States were added to the U.S. based breeding program in order to increase genetic diversity.

The offspring were first returned to the wild in the southwest of the United States in 1998 and in subsequent years they were also reintroduced in northern Mexico. Now several conservation zones in both Mexico and the US have been created with hundreds of thousands of hectares being reserved just to help wolf populations recover, as well as other animals such as bison, prairie dogs, and bighorn sheep.

For all of us, the resurgence of the lobo mexicano shows what can happen when focused conservation efforts are sustained over time. The Mexican wolf remains on the endangered species list, but fortunately, it has bounced back from the brink of extinction. 

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