ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has had one of its partners abandon the troubled effort to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest for the third time in recent weeks.
The reintroduction project has been a point of contention among ranchers and environmentalists. One federal official says fewer partners means a loss of perspective.
Wally Murphy of the Fish and Wildlife Service calls the recent developments "disheartening," because the wolf program is facing critical decisions this year that will affect its direction.
The exodus started last summer with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.
Grant and Sierra counties withdrew in late March, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture joined them this week.
Some Arizona counties remain partners, along with that state's game department.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.