Five Mexican gray wolves were released in a desert area of the country's north in a bid to boost its population, the Environment Secretariat said.

Three females - aged 11, four and three - and two three-year-old males, all members of the endangered Mexican Wolf subspecies of the Gray Wolf, "were transferred to a Mexican desert ecosystem, in which they were historically endemic, and given their freedom," the secretariat said.

The wolves had undergone a behavioral rehabilitation process at the Rancho La Mesa Wildlife Management Unit in the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon.

"These types of programs allow the population of species in danger of extinction to gradually expand, enabling successful reproduction," the secretariat said.

For the wolves' safety, a satellite radio collar was placed around each animal's neck so they can be promptly located.

Mexican wolves "play an important role in controlling species such as coyotes, hares, small rodents and reptiles, as well as their natural prey, deer and boar. This will permit the recovery of vegetation," the secretariat said.

The Mexican Wolf once roamed across a vast region, including parts of the present-day northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Durango; the central states of Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosi; and the southern state of Oaxaca.

The subspecies had been categorized in recent years as "probably extinct in the wild," the secretariat said.

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