The state Game Commission denied a permit to allow the release of more Mexican Gray Wolves into New Mexico.
The commission’s denial on Tuesday upheld the decision of a previous director. That initial decision was appealed by federal officials.
The endangered species has been part of a controversial reintroduction program in the southwest by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Farmers and ranchers have been against the program, saying the wolves feed on livestock.
There are currently 53 of the wolves in New Mexico and over 100 in the United States overall.
The permit sought to release additional members of the Mexican Gray Wolf species into the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.
Environmental groups blasted the decision and said that not being able to release more of the predators would harm the wolf population.
“We are extremely dismayed that the Game Commission has taken it upon itself to obstruct wolf recovery by denying the US Fish and Wildlife Service permission to release wolves into the wild in New Mexico,” Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair of the Rio Grande Sierra Club chapter, said in a statement following the decision. “Lobos are in dire need of greater genetic diversity in the wild population, which would be bolstered by more releases. Without those releases, their existence is once more cast into doubt.”
“It’s no surprise that Governor Martinez’s anti-wildlife game commission made this unfortunate decision to oppose release of more Mexican gray wolves,” Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. “This decision is a slap in the face to the majority of New Mexicans who are rooting for the Mexican wolf’s survival.”
This isn’t the first time environmental groups have clashed with the Game Commission.
Most recently, groups opposed a Game Commission decision to allow more hunting of bears and to allow trapping of cougars on public lands.