Federal officials want to release two packs of Mexican gray wolves in wilderness areas near the Arizona-New Mexico border this year in an effort to bolster a struggling population threatened by inbreeding.
It will ultimately be up to New Mexico and a federal court whether that happens since the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are locked in a legal battle over the endangered predator.
New Mexico contends there's no way to determine whether the proposed releases would conflict with the state's own wildlife management because federal officials have yet to develop a comprehensive recovery plan for the wolves.
Such plan is due later this year.
Federal officials say the releases are an important tool for avoiding a genetic bottleneck since most of the wolves in the wild are related.