By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - U.S. wildlife managers have finally adopted a plan that will guide recovery of a wolf that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
The plan unveiled Wednesday sets a goal of having an average of 320 Mexican gray wolves in the wild over several years before the predator can shed its status as an endangered species.
Officials say that could take another two decades and cost nearly $180 million.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered tens of thousands of public comments as it worked to meet a court-ordered deadline to craft the recovery plan. It was a long time coming as the original guidance for restoring the wolf was adopted in 1982.
The lack of a plan had spurred legal challenges and skirmishes over states' rights under the federal Endangered Species Act.
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