Pokemon Go has quietly made 4 new Pokemon species available to catch in the wild. Earlier this week, Pokemon Go players noticed that Absol, Mawile, and the Alolan variants of Sandshrew and Vulpix were now spawning in the wild. These Pokemon could previously only be obtained either by capturing them in a Raid Battle or by hatching the Pokemon from 7 KM eggs. It's currently unclear whether this is a permanent change or if this is part of the game's ongoing "Global Challenges, Global Hatches" event. All four species also have Shiny variants that can also be found in the wild.
Absol and Mawile were originally introduced in late 2017 during the first waves of Pokemon Go's "Gen 3" rollout. The Pokemon have been exclusive to raids for over a year and a half, and were seen as a way to promote more participation in certain raids. While a single experienced player could defeat Mawile in a Raid, it generally took two or more players to beat Absol and earn a chance to capture the Pokemon. Meanwhile, Alolan Sandshrew and Alolan Vulpix join several other Alolan Pokemon as being available in the wild. It appears that the Pokemon can still be obtained in 7 KM eggs, although this could be a sign of a big shakeup.
We're just over a week away from the introduction of "Gen 5" Pokemon to the game, so moving these Pokemon into the wild could be a precursor to some other big changes. Will we be seeing some "Gen 5" Pokemon exclusive to raids or certain egg groups, or is this just a one-time move? We'll have to wait until next week to find out. In the meantime, try to find these Pokemon in the wild as quickly as you can before Pokemon Go changes its mind. Since these were unannounced changes, there's no telling how long these Pokemon will remain widely available.