Mexican Gray Wolf Asha Is Roaming North Again

Asha, pictured running in an enclosure after being captured by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in January 2022. Photo credit: USFWS

By New Mexico Wild Staff

Asha, the female Mexican gray wolf renowned for her northern journey last winter, has once again ventured into northern New Mexico. Last January, wildlife managers captured Asha near Angel Fire, NM and took her into captivity. In June, wildlife officials released Asha back into the wild, in the Apache National Forest in southeast Arizona. Asha promptly headed north again, traveling more than 650 miles. When Asha crossed Interstate 40, she left the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area for a second time.  In November, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish publicized her location in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in an attempt to ensure her safety, reigniting public interest in Asha’s journey.

Wildlife advocates, including New Mexico Wild, have long argued that the Interstate 40 boundary is arbitrary and must be removed. Numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers have demonstrated that Mexican wolf recovery depends on multiple subpopulations of wolves in the wild, including in the southern Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico and in the Grand Canyon Ecoregion of Arizona and Utah. Asha’s persistent efforts to disperse into unoccupied, suitable habitat underscores the urgent need to reassess strategies for wolf recovery, especially given that ideal habitats and historic range for Mexican wolves extend beyond Interstate 40. Asha’s journey provides a unique opportunity for managers to learn about existing corridors for wolf disbursal and appropriate areas for establishing crucial subpopulations.

Presently, wildlife managers at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish assert that there are no immediate plans to recapture Asha. Mexican gray wolves are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or up to one year in jail, plus a potential civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Media Coverage and Op-Eds:

Santa Fe New Mexican, 11/25/23: My View – Allow wolves to keep on roaming

Santa Fe New Mexican, 11/25/23: My View – Manage public lands for flexibility — including wolves

Albuquerque Journal, 11/18/23: US wildlife managers have no immediate plans to capture wandering Mexican gray wolf

Santa Fe New Mexican, 11/14/23: Roaming Asha moves beyond arbitrary boundaries

Santa Fe New Mexican, 11/2/23: She’s back: Mexican wolf Asha wanders into Jemez Mountains