Jan 16, 7:30 PM EST

Conservation groups sue over changes to endangered Mexican gray wolf-reintroduction program

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Conservationists sued the federal government Friday over changes to a reintroduction program for the endangered Mexican gray wolf.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced the first major changes to the program since 1998. Under them, wolves will be able to roam a greater expanse of Arizona and New Mexico and will be released from captivity at more sites.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife say limiting wolves that are reintroduced into the wild to 325 doesn't allow for recovery of the species. They also say wolves would be deprived of prime habitat north of Interstate 40 and would be at a greater risk of being killed.

Fish and Wildlife declined comment Friday. Officials have said a separate wolf-recovery plan will include a higher target population.

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