ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. adopting a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf (all times local):
Environmental groups say they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its plan for recovering the endangered Mexican gray wolf in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
The agency released the plan Wednesday, just a day before a court-ordered deadline. That triggered instant criticism from the same groups that had initially sued in an effort to get the agency to update outdated guidance for restoring the species.
The groups followed up Wednesday afternoon with a notice of intent to sue, accusing federal officials of violating the Endangered Species Act.
The groups contend the plan contains shortcomings that will hinder recovery of the predator and could threaten to lead to the extinction of the wolves.
U.S. wildlife managers have finally adopted a plan that will guide recovery of a wolf that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
The plan unveiled Wednesday sets a goal of having an average of 320 Mexican gray wolves in the wild over several years before the predator can shed its status as an endangered species.
Officials say that could take another two decades and cost nearly $180 million.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered tens of thousands of public comments as it worked to meet a court-ordered deadline to craft the recovery plan. It was a long time coming as the original guidance for restoring the wolf was adopted in 1982.
The lack of a plan had spurred legal challenges and skirmishes over states' rights under the federal Endangered Species Act.