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Arizona Game and Fish commissioners vote to OK Mexican wolf releases to replace lost animals

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will now support the release of endangered Mexican wolves to replace those lost from the wild on a case-by-case basis.

The commission vote Friday revises a policy adopted in December that opposed any new releases until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed revisions to its Mexican Wolf recovery plan and other planning documents.

The commission gave its director authority to approve new releases to replace wolves lost from illegal actions. Replacement of animals lost naturally will require commission approval.

The federal government started its reintroduction effort along the New Mexico-Arizona border in 1998 with the release of 11 wolves. Biologists had hoped to have more than 100 wolves in the wild by 2006, but the numbers continue to hover around 50.