DNA indicates long-ago Southland wolf was actually a Mexican gray
The only wolf ever documented in Southern California may have been a victim of mistaken identity nearly a century ago.
The 100-pound male wolf was pursuing a bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert’s rugged Providence Mountains in 1922 when a steel-jaw trap clamped onto one of its legs.
Based on measurements of its skull, biologists at the time determined that it was a lone Southern Rocky Mountain gray wolf that had wandered out of a population in southern Nevada.
But a different story is emerging from a study of that skull at UCLA, where researchers have identified DNA markers indicating it was actually a Mexican gray wolf, the “lobo” of Southwestern lore.
Bob Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the university, said the finding could help extend the historic range of the federally endangered Mexican gray wolf, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends ranged over parts of central and northern Mexico, western Texas, southern New Mexico and southeastern and central Arizona.