EL PASO, Texas – There are not many instances where building a barrier bridges a community. But for Mexican grey wolves denning in the Deep Creek Allotment of the Gila Wilderness, a fence is exactly what isneeded.
Staff from the El Paso Zoo, along with Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians and New Mexico State University students helped build wolf boundary fence in the Gila Wilderness over the weekend. The fence ensures cattle do not trespass on the Deep Creek Allotment. This part of the Gila National Forest’s Reserve Ranger District was retired from livestock grazing in 2014. Reducing cattle and wolf conflicts is vital to wild wolf recovery, as encounters usually end badly for wolves, with wolves being removed from the wild or even shot.
“This is why we do what we do. We take care of animals every day, and even though you think you may not be making a difference, you have to look at the big picture,” said senior keeper Kristilee Kodis. “Field conservation work isn’t just about building a fence – it’s about building relationships between the community and all the people who love the land and the animals who live there.”
The Mexican gray wolf was one of the first animals on exhibit when the Zoo was founded in 1910. Mexican wolves hold a special place in the hearts of staff because they are native to the Chihuahuan desert. The Mexican gray wolf, or “lobo,” is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in zoos. Because of populations in zoos, Mexican grey wolves were reintroduced into the wild on March 29, 1998 after being extinct for more than 30 years.