The Interior Department this week opened to public comment and review its proposal to expand the range of federally protected Mexican wolves.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been attempting to reintroduce wolves into parts of Arizona and New Mexico with little success. A small population of about 75 wolves is restricted to a recovery area, and when an animal roams beyond those borders, it must be recaptured and returned.
Allowing wolves more room will increase their numbers and genetic diversity, biologists say. Livestock growers and others oppose any expansion of wolf territory.
Federal officials earlier this year proposed delisting gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes but preserved the endangered species status of Mexican wolves.
The agency is considering five alternatives, and the public has until Sept. 19 to comment.