Mexican Grey Wolf Reintroduction
School: Centennial High
Area of Science: Zoology
The Mexican grey wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southern-most and most genetically distinct grey wolf subspecies in North America. Due to advancing human development and progress, the wolves decreased in population until only a handful remained. The wolves were recognized as endangered in 1976 and a reintroduction program began in 1998 in the Southwest. While this reintroduction program has merited moderate success, more attention must be provided to the dilemma in order to reach a stable, wild Mexican grey wolf population.
The goal of this project is to create a coded simulation that takes into account variables including observed population growth rates, mortality rates and causes, and the characteristics of the wolves’ surroundings. This model will provide data that indicates beneficial and deconstructive habitat factors as well as the optimal areas for Mexican grey wolf reintroduction to most quickly acquire a stable population. The program will utilize a population growth rate obtained through calculations, mortality rates presented in percentages of illegal kills, natural deaths, etc., and demographics/ possible human interaction in the wolves’ immediate surroundings. An abstraction of the ecosystem will aid in determining how the unstable wolf population varies with certain conditions.
This simulation will be formulated through a program that takes into account the wolves being studied and their surroundings that alter their established population growth. The wolves will be placed in a controlled environment in which certain factors may be added to observe how the population responds to the variables. As an ideal situation is developed for the most suitable conditions to stabilize the wolf population, the reintroduction areas can then be analyzed to find the best possible vicinities for Mexican grey wolves to flourish.
Progress to Date:
Presently, research is occurring to compile the data required to create an accurate model. Dependable data has been found for population growth, mortality rates and causes, and maps of the successful and attempted relocation areas. A possible extension of this project lies in data acquired regarding financial compensation for livestock loss due to the wolves. In the process of development are computations to find a suitable mathematical expression that can successfully imitate the actual observed population increase rate.
This project is for the purpose of analyzing and identifying conditions in which Mexican grey wolves have the best chance of thriving and achieving population independence. The model will run with different variables such as distance from rural/urban civilization and resource availability; this will lead to the discovery of how the population varies in size. Resulting from this information of helpful and hurtful factors, an ideal location for wolf relocation can be derived by matching the successful factors with certain regions in the Mexican grey wolf relocation areas.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
o “Minimum population estimate within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, 1998-2012”
o “Causes of documented Mexican wolf mortalities in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, 1998-2012”
o “Initial release and translocation sites”
Sponsoring Teacher: Melody Hagaman
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