The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the shooting of a Mexican gray wolf in southwestern New Mexico was legal.
The agency says a rancher killed the wolf in June as it was attacking cattle on private land.
Officials point to a rule that paved the way for reintroducing wolves in New Mexico and Arizona, saying it allows ranchers to take such action but requires evidence that livestock have been freshly wounded or killed.
The agency says the rancher reported the shooting as required by the rule.
The female wolf that was shot was released into the Gila Wilderness several weeks earlier. Officials were hoping the pregnant female and her mate would establish a pack, but the two soon separated.
If the female had pups, officials say they likely died before she roamed out of the wilderness.
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